Oklahoma Football: Why OU Will Be Successful in 2015


OU’s 2014 campaign has been in the books for the better part of a month now, and there is no doubt amongst the Sooner faithful it was one to forget. Oklahoma never found consistent footing, and the result was an 8-5 debacle that did not come anywhere near the lofty preseason expectations heaped upon this Sooner squad.

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Today, Sooner Nation is justifiably in collective angst over the state of the program. And, the coaching changes Bob Stoops has already implemented in this young offseason are a clear signal the administration, from Boren on down, understand the status quo cannot continue.

But not all is gloom and doom; Samaje Perine’s emergence as a bona fide superstar-in-waiting was a welcome development and indication that there is great talent in Norman. So, in the interests of those who view the world from a “glass half full” perspective, here are some reasons why OU will turn things around in 2015.

Lincoln Riley’s System Will Work

A big reason why Josh Heupel is no longer on the OU staff was his failure to establish a clear offensive identity and stick to it. The reasons why this happened are the subject of endless debate amongst the Sooner faithful, but it is now time to turn the page and launch the Lincoln Riley offensive era. Riley enjoys a sterling reputation as a brilliant, up and coming offensive mind. In 2015, Riley will maximize the offensive output of a talented Oklahoma roster to work and fully implement his version of the Air Raid attack.

The Next, Great Air Raid Triggerman is on Campus

On the heels of Trevor Knight’s inconsistent 2014 campaign, the Oklahoma quarterback derby is about as wide open as it’s been in recent memory. Lincoln Riley’s Air Raid offense will require a confident, accurate triggerman who can keep drives moving. And, Riley believes his quarterback is on campus. Whether it’s Trevor Knight, Baker Mayfield, Cody Thomas or Justice Hansen, 2015 will see the emergence of OU’s next great quarterback.

The Running Game Will Hum

OU enters 2015 with an embarrassment of riches at running back. Samaje Perine made everyone forget he was just a freshman and turned in a debut for the ages. Alex Ross and Keith Ford are themselves no slouches; Ford is a bruiser, and Ross’s blazing speed means he’s a home run threat every time he touches the ball. Add ballyhooed five star recruit Joe Mixon to the mix, and there is no reason to think OU’s running attack will be anything else but one of the best in the country.

The Young Receivers Will Come Into Their Own

In 2014, Sterling Shepard was rapidly emerging as Oklahoma’s next great receiver. Unfortunately, a groin injury put the brakes on most of Shepard’s season and the other young receivers were unable to emerge as consistent threats. Forty five percent of the total yards gained by OU receivers are Shepard’s. Clearly, lessened production from Michiah Quick, K.J. Young and Durron Neal contributed to OU’s post-Shepard offensive woes. That said, this is a talented group and there is no reason to believe this group can’t contribute more in 2015. A healthy Sterling Shepard and the emergence of one or more complements to his talents means OU’s wideouts will once again be a position of strength in 2015.

The Defense Will Grow Teeth

This is perhaps the most difficult reason for optimism to justify; OU’s defense, especially against the pass, was subpar in 2014 (and that’s putting it kindly). Numbers don’t lie: while OU ranked 117th in the country against the pass, its 11th ranked performance against the rush saved some face and boosted OU’s overall defensive ranking to 51st in the country. No one in Sooner Nation is bound to be excited by a middle of the pack finish in total defense, yet so far this offseason very little change has come to the OU defensive staff. Bob Stoops believes Brother Mike can turn it around in 2015. His sterling record at Oklahoma and defensive acumen certainly give reason to hope that 2015 will see the type of OU defense Sooner Nation has come to expect.