OU football: Five players Sooners need to especially account for this season

STILLWATER, OK - SEPTEMBER 17 : Wide receiver James Washington
STILLWATER, OK - SEPTEMBER 17 : Wide receiver James Washington /
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DALLAS, TX – OCTOBER 08: Shane Buechele
DALLAS, TX – OCTOBER 08: Shane Buechele /

Texas Longhorn quarterback Shane Buechele, jersey No. 7

When Oklahoma and Texas meet this season in the annual Red River Showdown in Dallas it will mark the first time in 78 years that both schools will go into the game with a new head coach.

The 2017 Red River game should be the first in three seasons between these two longtime rivals in which the quarterback for both sides is the same one who was under center the year before. That assumes that last year’s Longhorn starter, Shane Buechele, is still No. 1 on the depth chart when OU and Texas collide on Oct. 14. That speaks to the quarterback competition  going on in the Longhorn training camp between the incumbent Buechele and freshman challenger Sam Ehlinger.

OU quarterback Baker Mayfield lost to the Longhorns in his first Red River rivalry game in 2015, and last season, the Sooners returned the favor, defeating Texas and freshman QB Buechele in his first exposure to the Oklahoma-Texas battle royal, a 45-40 old-fashioned shootout that went the way of the Sooners.

Despite the losing effort, Buechele was impressive as a freshman starter. He completed 19 of 36 passes for 245 yards and three touchdowns, including TD tosses of 45 and 63 yards, against the Sooners. The Oklahoma defense recorded four sacks against the Longhorn freshman, and that was a good thing. Otherwise, the outcome might have been different.

This season, with a stronger supporting cast around him and a valuable year of experience under his belt, including the pressure of playing in the OU-Texas rivalry, Buechele can be expected to pose a greater challenge for the Sooners and the rest of the Big 12.

Buechele ended up completing 61 percent of his pass attempts a year ago, a good percentage for a first-year player. He even had a 300-yard-plus passing game in 2016 against a very good West Virginia defense. Somebody the Sooners need to take seriously this season.