Staff Roundtable: Oklahoma Sooners search for answers this off-season


It’s officially the off-season for the Oklahoma Sooners, but it’s never boring when it comes to OU football.

We asked a few staff members what they thought on the current state of the team, and where the Sooners go from here.

Was the Clemson loss the worst loss of the Stoops era?

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Spenser Davis, Staff Writer:

I usually have a problem with the media placing too much pressure on teams to compete in otherwise meaningless bowl games like the Russell Athletic Bowl. The 55-19 drubbing that Oklahoma took at the hands of USC in the 2005 national championship game comes to mind, but that was against two of the greatest college football players in recent memory (Matt Leinart and Reggie Bush). I’m not even sure that it was Stoops’ worst loss of the season: I’d argue that the Baylor debacle was just as embarrassing and OU’s first home Bedlam loss since 2001 was equally horrifying.

Jake Keyes, Staff Writer: The Clemson loss may seem like the worst loss in the Stoops era, but that would mostly be because it was the most recent of his bad losses. To me the worst loss in the Stoops era was the loss to Florida in the BCS Championship game. After losing two previous title games and some BCS Bowl games, Stoops was losing his Big Game Bob tag. OU was the better team and a second championship would totally change the way fans feel about Stoops and the program today. Even with the five-loss season and the Clemson game.

Christopher Long, Columnist: Yes. It’s embarrassing to lose to your former defensive coordinator in the fashion you lost. 40-6 with 5 total turnovers was embarrassing. Least Perine played decent.

Brady Vardeman, Staff Writer: The Russell Athletic Bowl, although statistically not the worst loss of the Stoops era, took the most air out of the tires. Fans now not only doubt the competence of their quarterback, but the intelligence of the coaching staff. In short, the 34 point loss has totally reversed the momentum gained from the Sugar Bowl.

Who are you picking to be the next offensive coordinator at OU?

Davis: Before Bob Stoops took to the podium on Tuesday morning and said that the next offensive coordinator wouldn’t depend on current personnel, I would have picked Rhett Lashlee. His offense at Auburn would be perfect for Trevor Knight (or Baker Mayfield) and the weapons that surround them. But if Oklahoma is looking to return to the spread offense, an under-the-radar candidate that I like is Lincoln Riley, the OC at East Carolina this year. Riley started his career under Mike Leach and has zoomed through the coaching ranks. All of this is assuming that Scott Frost won’t make the jump from Oregon, however. He’s the pipe dream.

Keyes: Predicting the next O-coordinator is nearly impossible right now. It could be Lincoln Riley or Jake Spavital, but my guess is it will end up being somebody not yet on the radar. I do think there’s a great chance of Sonny Cumbie coming on board as Co-Coordinator. Not to call plays, but to be a QB coach. His work with Boykin and previous relationships with Mayfield and Knight make him a good choice.

Long: I’d be real happy with Spavital. Only because I didn’t think TCU’s Sonny Cumbie was in play. Scott Frost and incorporating Oregon’s offense or a version of it would be awesome. But my first choice would be Cumbie.

Vardeman: Since Tuesday, I’ve been banking on Western Kentucky offensive coordinator Tyson Helton to fill the position at Oklahoma. However, TCU OC Sonnie Cumbie met with Sooners coaches over lunch Wednesday and I’ve heard murmurs that Oregon’s Scott Frost may be in the running. My final (fantasy) pick: Scott Frost.

With DGB gone, how do you feel about the state of OU’s receivers for 2015?

Davis: It’s hard to get excited about Oklahoma’s wide receivers heading into 2015. Jay Norvell did a great job of getting kids to campus, but the lack of development of those guys is what cost him his job. I have full confidence in Sterling Shepard and Michiah Quick going forward, but beyond that, it’s a waiting game for OU. I expect Durron Neal, Jordan Smallwood, KJ Young, Dallis Todd, Mark Andrews, and John Humphrey to all be in the mix in 2015. Hopefully their shortcomings had more to do with coaching than it did talent.

Keyes: Obviously I would have felt much better about the OU receivers in ’15 if DGB were playing, but I still think they will be better than this past season. Quick was really coming on at the end of the year. He and DeDe Westbrook I think will be a nice compliment to Shepard. There’s also some good young talent that redshirted this year.

Long: Hard to guage. Who knows how much progress the new wide receivers coach can make in this off season. I’m copping out and saying the talent is certainly there, but can Norvell’s lack of development be reversed over a single spring and summer? I don’t know.

Vardeman: Sterling Shepard should be back to 100-percent in 2015, but Oklahoma is still hurting for wide receivers. Sophomore Jordan Smallwood should step up along with JUCO-transfer Dede Westbrook. However, it matters not how the receiving corps looks if the Sooners don’t find an accurate quarterback.

Bonus: Who wins the first ever College Football Playoff?

Davis: Oregon. I think this is the year the Ducks finally do it. They finally paired a future-pro QB with a defensive front that is physical enough to win the battle in the trenches. Urban Meyer stands in their way, but he’s only armed with his third-string QB and players without a lot of big-game experience. Oregon finally gets their national title

Keyes: This is one of the toughest championship games to pick in a few years. I picked Oregon to win it all back in September, but Ohio State looks like they are just destined to win. Even with Oregon’s blowout win over FSU, I think OSU’s win over Bama was a better win. I’ll stick with the Ducks because they just can’t be stopped by anyone on offense. But I’ll be pulling for Ohio State.

Long: Oregon. As proud as Alabama fans are, they are probably happy they won’t be the ones to get embarrassed by Oregon’s machine-like offense. Ohio State gives them a close game at first, but like Florida State, Oregon breaks the score board.

Vardeman: I’m taking Ohio State to win the inaugural College Football Playoff. Third-string quarterback Cardale Jones is hitting his stride at the right moment. However, the Buckeyes’ defense, which is much better than a Florida State unit that gave Heisman-winning quarterback Marcus Mariota fits, should be the difference in this one.