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2021 Oklahoma Sooners: Is This OU Team Complete?
Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

2021 Oklahoma Sooners: Is This OU Team Complete?

Quick question. When is the last time Oklahoma wasn’t good on offense? Try 1998 the year before Bob Stoops took over as head coach and became a legend. And most of those 22 years they have had tremendous, almost unstoppable offenses. That is not likely to change in 2021 with Lincoln Riley in command. Now here’s the next question. When is the last time OU had a good defense? You have to go all the way back to 2008 and it is a stretch to call that defense good. But, if you believe the coaches and players in Norman, that is about to change. The Sooners are saying they are going to put a legitimate defense on the field this season. They made noticeable improvements last year and they needed it because the offense was only “good” in 2020 If the defense catches the offense and the offense is a typical OU offense, Oklahoma will be in the hunt for their first national championship since 2000.

Offense: Oklahoma lost their first 2 conference games last year because the offense wasn’t very good (and they scored 31 and 30 points in the losses). QB Spencer Rattler was inexperienced and inconsistent, but most importantly, the offensive line wasn’t up to snuff and they were missing their best running back. When the pieces to the puzzle began to fit, OU started started to click. Rattler is back and the hype surrounding him may be too much too soon. Yes, he finished strong in 2020 and ended up with 3031 passing yards and 28 TDs but he has a lot of room for improvement. Head coach Lincoln Riley will make sure he does. There is some questions at running back but Kennedy Brooks returns( he gained over a 1,000 yards in 2019) after opting out because of Covid and Tennessee transfer Eric Gray was the hit of the spring. Riley was disappointed in the play of the receiving corps last year because they dropped nine touchdown passes. The talent is there and they are hoping TE Austin Stogner returns and is healthy. The offensive line returns 3 starters and another Tennessee transfer Wanya Morris fit right in when he arrived for spring practice.

Defense: Defensive Coordinator Alex Grinch (with the help of a lot better players, don’t forget that) has done a great job in his first two years. Oklahoma led the Big-12 with 39 sacks last year and could be even better in 2021. Rush LB Nik Bonitto received All-America notice last year and finished with 8 sacks. Isaiah Thomas returns and recorded 8.5 sacks. Nose guard Perrion Winfrey is tough up the gut. The three other linebackers, led by senior DaShaun White, are all back from good seasons. Two members of the secondary graduated but there is depth from the returning starters plus impressive young guys waiting in the wings.

Non-Conference Schedule:

9/4 at Tulane

9/11 Western Carolina

9/18 Nebraska

On paper the non-con schedule looks relatively easy and it may be, but Sooner fans know that this team loses games it shouldn’t. The opener at Tulane shouldn’t be much of a problem but the Green Wave are well coached will be ready for the Sooners and stranger things have happened. If OU loses against Western Carolina, there might be an entire new coaching staff on the following Sunday. The return of Nebraska to the schedule has a lot of fans buzzing and it is the 50-year reunion of the 1971 Thanksgiving Game of the Century. It would be a surprise if the Sooners are anything less than 3-0 after the first three games.

Conference Schedule:

9/25 West Virginia

10/2 at Kansas State

10/9 Texas at Dallas

10/16 TCU

10/23 at Kansas

10/30 Texas Tech

11/13 at Baylor

11/20 Iowa State

11/27 at Oklahoma State.

The schedule is so-so and does include some risky games. Road games at Kansas and Baylor should be wins as well as home games against Texas Tech, West Virginia, and TCU. Oklahoma’s hopes for another championship will come down to the other four games. They have to go to Kansas State in early October and the Wildcats have upset them the last two years. They have the season finale at Oklahoma State and that one is always scary. They have Iowa State in Norman and the Cyclones are loaded. And then there is the annual war with Texas and no one can predict that one.

Summary: It is not too far-fetched to think Oklahoma could win it all in 2021. The talent is there and if it all gels together and they stay injury free they will be favored in every game they play. They could easily go undefeated but somewhere along the way they put up a clunker and drop a game they shouldn’t. Will they avoid that in 2021?

Predicted Finish: 1st Place in the Big-12

Overall Record: 11-1

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