The case for
This is an article from the Aug. 19, 2013 issue
Landry who? The dream scenario for coach Bob Stoops would be for 6'6", 263-pound junior quarterback Blake Bell—known as the Belldozer for his short-yardage running—to improve his accuracy. The backfield is deep and experienced with seniors Trey Millard and Damien Williams, who both have big-play ability, and seniors Brennan Clay and Roy Finch. Senior wideout Jalen Saunders emerged late last season as a star-in-the-making slot man, and sophomore receiver Trey Metoyer has immense talent as an outside threat. Senior center Gabe Ikard fronts an offensive line with a nice mix of experience and potential. The defense was porous last season, but if a few promising sophomores (such as 6'6", 324-pound defensive tackle Jordan Phillips) contribute, defensive coordinator Mike Stoops won't see a repeat of last year, when the Sooners gave up video-game numbers against Baylor, Oklahoma State, Texas A&M and West Virginia.
The case against
No successor to Landry Jones will emerge from the three-person QB competition, allowing opposing defenses to stack the box to stop the running game. The inexperienced defensive front seven—which is especially shaky at defensive tackle—never finds its footing.
You have not made a decision yet on a starter at quarterback. What is your time frame?
I don't think there needs to be a rush to judgment. We have experience at this. I'm not sitting here saying this in a bragging way at all, but we have won eight Big 12 championships with six different quarterbacks. So we have had a fair amount of success in developing our guys. When we feel there has been enough practice and enough reps on the field and it's decided in our mind, then we go with it.
What improvement can be expected from your D, given that many of last year's starters are gone?
Sometimes change in personnel can help you. There is still an opportunity to play more consistently, tackle better and not give up so many big plays.
The defensive line was hit hard in the off-season. How concerned are you?
We did lose a lot of experienced guys, but I did not read many publications a year ago that were bragging about all of those guys, either. You hate to lose that experience, but we have some other guys who will be prepared to play.
Player to Watch
The Sooners lost both starting safeties from last season, soAhmad Thomascan make an immediate impact. The 6'1", 205-pound freshman impressed this spring (he was an early enrollee) with his instincts, tackling and desire to be coached.