Oct 12, 2013; Dallas, TX, USA; Oklahoma Sooners receiver Sterling Shepard (3) runs with the ball against Texas Longhorns buck Jackson Jeffcoat (44) in the first quarter of the Red River Rivalry at the Cotton Bowl Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

2014 Off-Season: The State of the Oklahoma Offense

Nov 23, 2013; Manhattan, KS, USA; Oklahoma Sooners wide receiver Sterling Shepard (3) catches a pass for a touchdown against the Kansas State Wildcats during the first half at Bill Snyder Family Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

It is a busy time in Sooner Nation. We are neck deep in off-season activities and a lot of anxious fans are looking at the upcoming National Signing Day with as much optimism as seen in years. Most recently with the verbal commitment of Joe Mixon, excitement has just amplified, and for good reason.

Oklahoma is coming off a season that was a virtual roller coaster. We saw Trevor Knight struggle at the beginning of the season. We saw Blake Bell rise to the occasion and exorcise the demon that was Notre Dame.

Then we saw this team lose to the Texas Longhorns, a game that Oklahoma had no business losing. Blake Bell didn’t play well in that game, nor did he in the only other loss of the season when the Sooners were beat by the Baylor Bears to the tune of 41-12. Only for this team to shake it off and turn it around to beat the Oklahoma State Cowboys and Alabama Crimson Tide.

Trevor Knight was part of the reason why Oklahoma defeated Alabama. Though, you can’t forget the rest of the guys on offense. The offensive live played lights out. The wide outs did as well with Sterling Shepard, Jalen Saunders, and even freshman Derrick Woods got in on a major play.

The Sooners do lose quite a bit of skill players on offense. Gabe Ikard, Jalen Saunders, LaColtan Bester, Brenna Clay, and Roy Finch all have graduated. What those players were able to do on the offensive side of the ball  during their time at Oklahoma was something amazing.

The running back position not only took the brunt of the the damage from the normal eben flow of graduation and players leaving for the NFL, but they also gained as well.

The running game as of right now belongs to Keith Ford. He wasn’t utlized much during the season last year as a freshman, only having 134 yards rushing and 1 touchdown on 23 attempts. These attempts were mostly critical short yardage situations. Situations in which he excelled.

I hadn’t seen a freshman run anyone over like Keith Ford did defenders, including those SEC guys (you know who I am talking about).

He will be making a more significant impact in 2014 in a zone read offense that already has a very capable runner in Trevor Knight. Joe Mixon, comes in as a five-star recruit, and number one in the nation for all purpose yards.

Not only is Mixon able to run the ball effectively, but he’s an extra receiver as well. I look for Joe Mixon to make an immediate impact on the Oklahoma offense, but only time will tell.

The wide receivers also lost some good players. LaColtan Bester and Jalen Saunders are gone. This unit has become possession of Sterling Shepard.

He will have a supporting cast of other players. Derrick Woods will be a sophomore and a chance to show what he’s made of with more playing time. He had one catch in the Sugar Bowl. It was not only a pivotal play, but just a cool looking one for the still images—catching a pass between two Alabama defensive backs.

Joe Mixon is a multi-purpose back that is fully capable of lining up with the wide receivers. OU also has in its 2014 class two wide receivers that are listed at 6’5″ in Jeffery Mead and Dallis Todd. It helps that Oklahoma is stacked in the wide receiver position. You know there will be a sleeper among those guys.

Lastly, the offensive line. Coach Bedenbaugh had done one of the best coaching jobs an assistant can do, facing down a defensive line like the Crimson Tide and be able to manhandle them with what many people were calling a “Frankenstein” line.

Oklahoma loses the likes of Gabe Ikard, Bronson Irwin, and Austin Woods. However, guys like Tyrus Thompson and Daryl Williams, who both have a lot of playing experience, will be taking a leadership role on the line.

Oklahoma did fairly well recruiting new offensive linemen, including a four star and three star. Under the guidance of Coach Bedenbaugh, the offensive line shouldn’t miss a beat, even with Gabe Ikard no longer at the center of the line.

Overall, the Oklahoma offense should be in good shape, especially as the season progresses. Trevor Knight should be improved even from the Sugar Bowl game, Sterling Shepard I believe will take this offense and make it his own. The running game should be fun to watch. It is going to be an exciting year for the Sooners offense.

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