Oklahoma Football: Bob Stoops' 5 Best, 5 Worst Offseason Developments
You know the old saying: "In every dark cloud, there is a silver lining."
Many pundits nationally see the Sooners as a consensus No. 1 heading into the fall. However, there are problems and issues that need to be addressed before the season starts, and they need to be addressed quickly.
If these negatives can be fixed, expect a smooth run towards a BCS national championship.
This slideshow will give an analysis of five positive and five negative developments during the offseason.
Positive: Aaron Colvin Moves to Safety
Yes, the season has yet to start, but many around the Sooner nation see this as a positive development. Aaron Colvin (5'11", 175 pounds) came into Norman as a Rivals 3-star recruit and began making an immediate impression.
So far the Sooner staff seems pleased with Colvin’s transition to safety. Possessing the skills needed to play an important position, Colvin must learn quickly if he is to have a productive season against a pass-happy Big 12 conference.
“It is complicated,” Colvin said to The Norman Transcript. “You’re constantly moving and adjusting to what the offense is doing. You have to see the whole formation. You have to help the corners. You have to help the linebackers. There’s a whole bunch of things. There’s a lot more thinking going on.”
Phil Steele has listed Aaron Colvin as a preseason second team All-Big 12 member.
Negative: Jamell Fleming Missing Offseason Workouts
Though Jamell Fleming (5'11", 191) can improve during the offseason with private conditioning, his presence was missed during the spring 2011 drills.
Leading OU with five interceptions and producing 7.5 tackles for loss, Fleming has become not only a vocal leader on the defense, but a very productive one as well.
Fleming must return this fall to a Sooner defense that lacks experience at the secondary position. If he does not, expect underclassman Gabe Lynn to fill the cornerback position.
Positive: Drew Allen Solidifies Himself as Backup Quarterback
Drew Allen (6'5", 236 pounds) has solidified himself as the second-string quarterback behind Landry Jones.
The sophomore went 16-of-29 for 179 yards and one touchdown during the annual Red and White game. Yes, 5-star recruit Blake Bell is still making progress, but he has yet to pick up the offense like Allen has.
Some of you may question my logic and ask, “Why is this a big deal?!”
When chasing after a championship, it's good to have at least another QB who understands the system on the spot. Yes, the offensive line was young, but I’m pretty sure most of you remember how Landry Jones struggled after Sam Bradford went down.
Negative: Daniel Noble Concussion
Daniel Noble (6'2", 276 pounds) entered the University of Oklahoma with high expectations to win a national championship and provide a spark to the Sooner defense.
After a successful contribution in a 28-20 win over Texas, Noble had an unfortunate concussion against Iowa State that ended his 2010 season.
During the spring Noble once again made an attempt to play for the Sooners, but with lingering issues, those dreams were not possible.
Even with the addition of highly regarded freshmen, Noble’s absence will be a negative for an already thin Oklahoma defensive line.
Positive: Development of Corey Nelson
Uh-oh, Linebacker U is at it once again. Corey Nelson (6'0", 208 pounds) has the potential to be one of college football's most intriguing players in 2011. After spurning Texas A&M during the recruitment process, Nelson looks to make an impact studying under Oklahoma legend Travis Lewis.
According to Sports Illustrated's Stewart Mandel, Bob Stoops think Nelson can possibly be one of the best defensive players on the team if he sticks to a strict work ethic.
With Nelson’s athleticism playing outside linebacker, he can be placed in a wide variety of defensive packages given by Brent Venables. With only 21 tackles in 2010, look for him to have over 70 tackles this fall.
Negative: Loss of Jeremy Beal
The loss of Jeremy Beal at defensive end means a production drop-off. The former Sooner gave Bob Stoops 57 tackles for loss along with 29 sacks during his five years in Norman.
In addition to being named 2010 Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year, Beal played an important position in the Sooner defense with his ability to play a hybrid role.
Venables utilized Beal to rush from a two and three-point stance. With a two-point stance, Beal was able to drop into pass coverage.
Though production will take a hit, don’t expect Ronnell Lewis to slack on his game either. Lewis was named first team a preseason All-Big 12 selection by Phil Steele.
Positive: Running Back by Commitee in 2011
Bob Stoops will have an embarrassment of riches at running back come August. After finishing seventh in the Big 12 rushing statistics at 155 ypg, look for the explosive running attack to rear its ugly head in 2011.
Roy Finch (5’8’’, 173 pounds) looks to be the starter with plenty of depth behind him. Finch last season exploded onto the scene nationally against Iowa State averaging 4.7 ypc in 2010.
To compliment him will be four-star Brennan Clay (5’11’, 185 pounds) and explosive freshman five-star Brandon Williams. Williams (5’11’’, 189 pounds) entered Oklahoma last spring to get a jump start on the learning curve and looks to vouch for playing time early in the season.
This spring, Williams impressed the coaching staff with his work ethic during position and conditioning drills. Bob Stoops has even indicated that Williams may put a swerve into the Sooner running game due to his style of play.
With three capable backs at the helm, Landry Jones has a solid security blanket in place this fall.
Negative: Loss of DeMarco Murray
Oklahoma will now lose its all-time touchdown leader. Now we know there is talent to replace him (note the last slide), but you can’t ignore the fact those players have little starting experience.
Despite multiple injuries, DeMarco Murray was a very versatile running back who produced effectively. His ability to catch the ball out of the backfield was uncanny and his work ethic was never in question.
The other con about losing DeMarco Murray is the “Diamond” formation. Taken from Oklahoma State, the "Diamond" was a unique formation which allowed not only Roy Finch, but DeMarco on the field at the same time.
The question is still up in the air whether Josh Heupel will run it or not in 2011.
Positive: Dejuan Miller Is Healthy Again
Senior Dejuan Miller (6’4’’, 216 pounds) and his height was sorely missed. In 2010, Miller was on his way to a breakout year until suffering a season ending knee injury. After his torn Meniscus surgery, Miller still finished the season with 434 yards in 6 games.
As the tallest receiver on the two-deep depth chart, Miller’s height will be a huge asset to Landry Jones' success in 2011. During the Red and White game, Miller was seen taking snaps from both offenses to get a better offensive rhythm for the fall.
After making an analysis in Norman, Miller looks good in terms of healing development. He caught the football with ease in April and should be ready come August.
In multiple receiver sets, look for Miller to stretch the field against Big 12 defenses and against Florida State on the road.
When you want to make a run at a BCS national championship, all players must be on the same page and focused.
The younger Sooners need to mature quickly and become focused without off-the-field distractions.
It first started with Kenny Stills and his misdemeanor DUI arrest. Then months later freshman Marquis Anderson got charged with petty larceny. The theft resulted in a $500.00 fine.
Stoops in the past has had an intolerance for bad behavior, and 2011 won't be an exception.