Oklahoma Sooners 2008 College Football Team Preview

By: Dwayne Bryant

Oklahoma finished the 2007 season at 11-3 as Big 12 champions. The Sooners averaged 6.4 yards per play on offense, the most for the team since 1987. The offense should continue to thrive, but the defense may be a bit of a question mark at this point in time.

Sooners quarterback Sam Bradford had one of the best freshman seasons in college football history. Bradford threw for 3,121 yards and 36 touchdowns with just eight interceptions. He led the nation in passing efficiency and his 36 touchdown passes stand as the NCAA freshman record. With a talented and experienced offensive line in front of him and an army of weapons at his disposal, Bradford should continue to improve in his sophomore season.

The Oklahoma offensive line is led by future NFL players Duke Robinson and Phil Loadholt. In fact, all five starters are back this season for an offensive line that ranks as one of the top units in the country.

The Sooners also welcome back wide receivers Juaquin Iglesias and Manuel Johnson. Iglesias led the team last season with 68 catches for 907 yards and five touchdowns. Junior Jermaine Gresham steps into the starting spot at tight end and appears to be someone to watch.

Senior running back Allen Patrick is gone, but the cupboard is anything but bare. The tandem of DeMarco Murray and Chris Brown combined for 1,375 yards and 22 touchdowns last season. Murray is just a sophomore, but he possesses great speed and elusiveness. He could very well have a huge season.

The defense only returns six starters, but three of them are along the defensive line. Oklahoma will have to rely on the front four to control the line of scrimmage; at least until the back seven get settled. The front four were equally successful at stopping the run and the pass in 2007.

The linebacker corps returns only one starter, Ryan Reynolds, who has a history of injury problems. The success of this unit could depend on the development of redshirt freshmen Travis Lewis and Austin Box, as well as junior college transfers J.R. Bryant and Mike Balogun.

The secondary returns both safeties from last season, Nic Harris and Lendy Holmes. Both have all-star potential and they'll need to show it because the team will have two new starting cornerbacks this season. The likely starters are junior Brian Jackson and sophomore Dominique Franks. Both played well in the spring, but it remains to be seen how that translates into the season.

Receivers Iglesias and Murray return for the top kickoff return unit in the nation last season. Mike Knall returns as one of the Big 12's best punters, but Oklahoma needs someone to step up and win the kicker job.

The schedule is favorable for the Sooners to make a run at the national title. The one possible roadblock is October 11th when Oklahoma travels to Dallas to face Texas. Bradford should continue to impress with talent all around him. If the defense can hide its inexperience, the Sooners should prevail as Big 12 South champions and make a play for their eighth national championship.

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