Sooners looking to build five-loss team into national champion
NORMAN, Okla. -- At a mid-August practice,
Oklahoma's offense certainly had its faith tested in 2009. No one was stricken with sores from head to toe, but the reigning Heisman Trophy winner and future No. 1 overall draft pick at quarterback (
How bad was Oklahoma's luck? After receiver
A series of freak accidents derailed a season that began with seemingly realistic national championship hopes. Oklahoma lost five games for the first time since Coach
That's not an outlandish proposition, especially if the Sooners can stay healthy on offense. Between Jones, Broyles, tailback
While Jones has taken command of the offense, Stoops hopes the star is Murray, a fifth-year senior from Las Vegas who will start the season 72 points away from
Murray, who redshirted Peterson's junior year and spent much of his career sharing carries with
Murray has enjoyed playing behind the same offensive line throughout camp. Center
That group will protect a more mature Jones, who at this point last year was trying to nail down the Sooners' backup job. Less than two weeks later, a hit by BYU linebacker
As expected, Jones struggled at times. The game occasionally moved too fast. Jones said his five-interception performance in a 10-3 loss at Nebraska remains a sore spot. Reminded that few quarterbacks succeeded against
As a redshirt freshman last year, Jones also hadn't learned to take charge of the huddle. "I don't think I heard him say anything but the play last year," said Murray, who has watched Jones grow into a more vocal leader in the offseason. Jones said he now has had a chance to tell his teammates what he expects of them. He also has told him what he expects of himself. "I expect to be perfect," said Jones, who threw for 3,198 yards with 26 touchdowns and 14 interceptions in 2009. "I'm not going to be, but I'm striving for perfection on every play, every read and every throw. Obviously, I know that's not going to happen, but I'm striving for it."
He'll get closer this year. As last season progressed, the game slowed for Jones. By this spring, he could see both safeties instead of having time to read only one. He now sees the field, he said, in two distinct halves, and he can keep track of all the receivers in the pattern. "He's a different guy. He's like night and day," Stoops said. "There's truly no comparison with this time last year -- or this year had the circumstances been different."
Had everything gone as planned in 2009, the 2010 Sooners would lack experience at quarterback and on the offensive line. Instead, Oklahoma's struggles forged an offense that will enter this season savvy, if not downright grizzled. The odds suggest the men in crimson and cream won't have to struggle through another Job-like series of misfortunes. If they don't, the Sooners can dust off the national title dreams they shelved when the losses began mounting last season.