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What To Watch For Ahead Of Oklahoma Football's First SEC Offseason

Norman, OK - Sport after sport has completed their conference championship, bringing Oklahoma closer and closer to fully transitioning over to the SEC. As they look past their spring game and toward the home stretch of the offseason, here are the pressing questions for Sooner Football.

Can The O-Line Rebound From All Of This Turnover?

OU's early offseason, especially their transfer portal, had early detrimental effects on their offensive line. In addition to losing Tyler Guyton and Walter Rouse to the draft, as well as McKade Mettauer and Andrew Raym to UDFA. they lost major contributors in Cayden Green and Savion Byrd to the transfer portal, as well as depth pieces in Marcus Hicks, Nate Anderson, and Aaryn Parks. All in all, a whopping seven offensive linemen - many of whom were either integral or poised to be integral to the team.

They rebounded big time, however, in the later stages of the portal. Spencer Brown from Michigan State and Febechi Nwaiwu from North Texas got the ball rolling, both of whom have starting experience. Nwaiwu is on the younger side, but he started out with a flash, being named a third-team freshman All-American. USC's Michael Tarquin provides a veteran presence to the tackle group, and was a fairly regular started there and at Florida.

The acquisition group was rounded out with Geiran Hatchett and Brandon Hickman on the interior. Overall, a solid group of players, but one that will have a steep learning curve against some challenging opposition. It's hard to imagine that there won't be a dropoff, just given how valuable Guyton, Raym, Mettauer, and Rouse were to the team, and the kind of prospect Cayden Green was building up to be. However, their new group is promising - can they flourish in a new offensive system?

Has Oklahoma Found Their First Flagship WR Of The Venables Era?

While the Sooners did lose Drake Stoops to UDFA, and will absolutely miss his football sense, competitiveness, and reliability, other than depth piece Gavin Freeman, they were able to keep their receiving core intact. In fact, they likely upgraded.

Their recruiting class landed them a couple of promising four-stars in Zion Kearney and Ivan Carreon, but their biggest acquisition came in the transfer portal: Purdue's Deion Burks. While Burks is a bit on the smaller side at 5'11", 195 lbs, he makes up for it with his speed, route running sense, reliable hands, and versatility. His numbers at Purdue last year: 40 catches, 542 yards, and 7 TDs, while decent, don't show the full story, especially with Purdue's struggles on the offensive side.

Burks has the potential to make both short/midrange plays out of the slot, and make the big plays downfield, and will be a huge asset to new starting QB Jackson Arnold. He showed his compatibility with the Sooner offense right off the bat with a whopping 174 yards off just five catches, for two touchdowns in his spring game, and drummed up immediate excitement with plays like the one below.

The Sooners continue to have other reliable weapons in Farooq, Anderson, and Anthony, but Burks has the potential to be the next Belitnikoff contender-level receiver for them, and a true #1 option can really open up the offense for them.

What Is The Current Shape Of The Defense?

While last year's Sooners found more consistency and clean play on offense last year, the reason they were able to elevate this much in 2023 was their defense. They played well in the trenches, were able to create turnovers, and made stops in big moments. There was still room for improvement, especially in terms of generating more of a consistent pass rush, and preventing big plays.

Laulu, Coe, and Bothroyd were major losses to the draft/UDFA, especially on the front seven end of things, and losing Key Lawrence, who contributed well at Safety, definitely left the Sooners with some gaps. However, they retained star linebacker Danny Stutsman, who was projected to enter the draft this year, and made a splash on the recruiting end of things.

David Stone, a top-five DL in his class, was the marquee signing of the Sooners' 2024 recruiting class, and will provide an immediate disruptive presence to the front seven. The transfer portal led to just as impressive, if not more so, of a signing in TCU's Damonic Williams, who they landed over Texas, Missouri, and LSU.

Williams has been an integral part of TCU's front seven, and will be an immediate contributor for the Sooners. Venables has been able to make an imprint on the defense already, and with more of his own guys this year, that will only grow.


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