As the Cotton Bowl draws closer, Oklahoma’s offense prepares for their first SEC defense of the season. While A&M is not a defensive juggernaut like an Alabama or Florida, OU still has to go out and perform.
Heading in to the match-up, Texas A&M will get a good fight out of an offense that arguably overachieved in 2012.
At the beginning of the season, we all knew Landry Jones was a good quarterback. And maybe he still is just a good quarterback, but 2012 holds several defining moments of his four-year career in Norman.
While he has come up short several times in the past, Jones strung together winning drives and made key plays to allow Oklahoma to salvage a season where they for once were beaten by teams that were just a little bit better than them.
Fans may not love him as much Bradford or Heupel and he missed out on his final shot at a Heisman, but Jones will have some of the most memorable moments in Sooner Football history. Ripping apart the Texas Longhorns for a third season in a row. A last second touchdown pass to Kenny Stills to beat West Virginia. A perfectly orchestrated game-saving drive in Bedlam.
Jones had some bad games, but when it comes down to it, his name will forever be imprinted in Oklahoma history.
Along with Jones, one of the most memorable players to come through the program will hopefully show up for another season. Though, before this one, he, Kenny Stills, was the only proven receiver on the roster. However, OU’s 2012 receiving corps has turned out to be one of the best in the Stoops Era.
Stills was the only receiver before the season to catch a pass for Oklahoma. 12 games later, the Oklahoma wideouts became one of the strongest groups on the team.
While Stills remained as the top receiver, Justin Brown made a splash in his lone season in Norman. After sanctions were handed to Penn State, Brown jumped ship and made a huge impact for the Sooners in his final year of school.
Sooner fans were also exposed to true freshman Sterling Shepard and Fresno State transfer Jalen Saunders. Shepard out of Heritage Hall in Oklahoma City and Saunders who gained eligibility right before the Red River Rivalry both were spark plugs for the Oklahoma passing game.
Oklahoma, also, saw some Trey Metoyer, Durron Neal, and LaColtan Bester. While they will get their chance to shine more next season, OU’s receiving corps went from a preseason question mark to arguably one of the deepest in the nation.
The Sooner run game was, also, a bit of a question mark. Dominique Whaley looked like he would be the no. 1 back, but Damien Williams became OU’s top rusher by the end of the season. An injury to Williams left the door open for Brennan Clay to get meaningful reps, and Clay took advantage.
The two were outstanding, but one player we already knew was one of the best in the business is Trey Millard.
Before the year, Millard was Oklahoma’s premier power runner. Never afraid to lower the shoulder and take out a defender, Millard was a force in both the run and passing game.
Millard did a lot of the dirty work picking up a few extra yards, however, the group that does the most dirty work on offense really came together and did not allow a lot of preseason bad luck to prevent Jones and the offense from flowing as well as it did in 2012.
The offensive line looked pretty solid, but injuries to Ben Habern and Tyler Evans before the season hurt the group’s depth. Forced to move Gabe Ikard to center and play a lot of inexperienced linemen, Oklahoma’s o-line showed a lot of heart and effort this past season. It was not pretty 100% of the time, but for the most part, it was a group that overcame a lot of adversity.
The nation’s perception of Oklahoma’s offense probably did not change much. Once again, Oklahoma put up points and had one of the best passing attacks in the country. That’s nothing new in Norman.
However, Oklahoma had close, exciting games. That really came down to the offense. And even though they dropped games to the top-ranked team in the country and their Big 12 co-Champion, Oklahoma delivered in unfamiliar situations.
On the road and under pressure, I’m not sure Landry makes those same plays in 2011. Playing from behind nearly the entire game, a mistake was bound to happen by the OU offense in their classic Bedlam win.
On paper, OU’s offense was about what everyone expected. However, a full season with the Belldozer and the active FBS passing leader, the Sooners rose to the occasion in a way no could anticipate in 2012. With one game left, the Sooner offense proved a lot of critics wrong and really grew up as the season progressed.
It should be a great Cotton Bowl, and hopefully, this offensive unit can deliver one more time after a roller coaster 2012.