College Football 2011: 7 Key Players for the Oklahoma Sooners Offense
With high-powered attacks arising in the Big 12 conference, there is a need to score more points often and early with Bob Stoops’ Oklahoma Sooner offense.
Though at times Landry Jones struggled on the road, the offensive scheme Kevin Wilson created worked to the skillset of each player amassing an average of 481 yards per game during the 2010 season.
The key to success?
Each player within the offense uses their ability to process information quickly to run a fast-paced no huddle offense that throws unsuspecting defenses off guard.
Though football is a team sport, there are standouts at numerous positions. These players are key ingredients to what makes an offense special and so productive.
This slideshow will present the seven key players for the 2011 Oklahoma Sooners offense.
Roy Finch: Runningback
Sure Bob Stoops has a sensational freshman named Brandon Williams coming in, but Roy Finch will still be the starter come September third.
Finch came into the lineup during the fifth game of last season and provided a swerve into the Oklahoma Sooner running game. Though just having 398 yards his first season, Finch's best performance in 2010 came against Big 12 foe Iowa State where he gained a 92 yards on 16 carries.
Finch only stays on this list if he gains the ability to stay healthy for an entire season. Since his arrival in Norman, I have begun to notice some durability issues concerning Finch. If he continues to work hard in the weight room with strength and conditioning coach Jerry Schmidt, he should be fine in being able to sustain hits from opposing defenders.
Look for Finch to contribute mostly in the “Diamond” and “Pistol” formations utilizing his shiftiness in the backfield trying to get to the second level of the defense.
Kenny Stills: Wide Receiver
Kenny Stills is good…very good.
Last year, Stills came into Norman as a highly heralded recruit out of Encinitas, California and made an immediate impact in the Oklahoma receiving corp catching 61 balls for 786 yards.
After garnering freshman All-American honors last season, Stills looks to make a bigger impact during his sophomore season in multiple receiver formations.
Stills possesses great hands and has shown excellent ball skills when fighting against cornerbacks in one on one situations.
Only knock on Stills is that he must stay focused on the task at hand.
This off-season Stills was arrested for a DUI in the Norman area that hit national news immediately and brought bad press to the Sooner football program. If the young Sooner can stay focused, expect a first round draft choice after next season.
Trey Millard: H-Back
The "H-Back" role is a hybrid of a fullback and a tight end and can play multiple positions in many formations.
In the past, the Sooner coaching staff has limited the fullback role to just a few amount of carries, but Trey Millard has changed how the position is played at Oklahoma. Millard has now evolved the position into a "H-Back" role and carries the football on several occasions.
Though quiet in terms of presence, Millard is one of the biggest functional pieces to the Oklahoma rushing game.
Millard will be used in a variety of formations with the “Diamond” formation being the most obvious.
Thanks to his uncanny agility and use of lower body strength, Millard has the ability to use his base blocking techniques downfield opening holes for the Sooner running backs.
Also, look for Millard to come out of the backfield on several play-action plays also catching the football from quarterback Landry Jones.
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Ryan Broyles: Wide Receiver
Adding Oklahoma’s all-time leading receiver to this list is a no brainer.
Ryan Broyles (5’11’’, 187 pounds) is one of the most key components in the Oklahoma offense. Last year in 2010, Broyles led the nation in receptions with 131 and showed his explosiveness in the return game fielding punts netting 268 yards.
His year ended with a second place finish in the Biletnikoff Award behind Justin Blackmon of “that Rival school” across the state.
Broyles main function inside of the offense is to get Landry Jones in a rhythm with “Slip” routes. These routes allow Broyles to make a move with his agility and get up the field with his speed.
Though Broyles could have left last season for the NFL, he will return to an Oklahoma offense that is poised to lead the Big 12 in multiple categories.
Landry Jones: Quarterback
The quarterback in any situation will be the most important aspect to an offense. Usually in most cases the quarterback is the first one who touches the football after the ball is snapped.
With such a big responsibility, Landry Jones is still trying to come out of the shadows of former Heisman Trophy winner Sam Bradford.
Though still needing improvement, Jones has gained the respect of his conference by winning the 2010 Big 12 title and an Fiesta Bowl MVP trophy.
Notice I said "still needing improvement".
After throwing for 38 touchdowns and 4718 yards in 2010, it’s his turn to write his name in the Oklahoma record books and win the national championship.
Donald Stephenson: Offensive Line
Donald Stephenson (6’5’’, 303 pounds) playing the left tackle position is a big key for the Oklahoma offense.
A left tackle is usually the best pass blocker on the team and has the quickest feet amongst all of the offensive linemen. In addition, a left tackle guards the blind side of Landry Jones in the pocket, saving him from embarassing moments of getting hit and fumbling the football.
Stephenson’s presence at left tackle position will be critical in Oklahoma giving Landry Jones time, especially on the road in a hostile environment such as Doak Campbell Stadium playing the Florida State Seminoles.
After starting left tackle in 10 of 14 games and playing in a total of 868 snaps, look for more pancake blocks from this Sooner offensive lineman this upcoming season.
Mmm, pass the syrup.
DeJuan Miller: Wide Receiver
I understand many of you will scoff at this pick, but height is something that quarterback Landry Jones needs in the Oklahoma passing game.
In order to stretch the field in the game of football it is necessary to have a receiver that possesses size over the height of Six Foot 3. Sure, Ryan Broyles is a better receiver, but Miller is needed to play the X and Y position to go against more physical and tall cornerbacks in the Big 12.
After a season ending injury verses Iowa State, DeJuan Miller (6’4’’, 216 pounds) is poised to make a healthy return in 2011.
During the Red and White spring game, Miller was seen taking snaps from both offenses to help his rhythm. Once he comes back 100 percent, he will become a go-to threat down the field for the Oklahoma receiving corp.