Off-season is over — game week is HERE.
The Sooners are set to kickoff the season Sunday, Sept 1st at 6:30pm in Norman — and as usual, there is plenty to talk about leading up-to the prime time match up. While most of you have likely stayed updated throughout the off-season, some of you may just be tuning in: so let’s get you updated.
Alex Grinch is Oklahoma’s new DC
The Sooners hit a new low last season on the defensive side of the ball. Lincoln Riley made the call to remove Mike Stoops from his position as defensive coordinator after a loss to Texas in the Cotton Bowl. Oklahoma’s search for a defensive coordinator concluded January 4th when news broke that Alex Grinch, then Ohio State co-defensive coordinator, was headed to Norman. Grinch only served one year on the Buckeyes staff, but had made a name for himself at Washington State where he took the 79th ranked defense (per S&P+) up to 29th in only a couple seasons.
Grinch still runs a 3-4 and 4-2-5 that Oklahoma fans have become accustom to, but is predicated on being aggressive upfront and disguising pressure and coverages using a lot of pre-snap movement. Grinch also brings in Roy Manning as cornerbacks coach and former Sooner, Brian Odom as inside linebackers coach.
Oklahoma has a new quarterback
There was no question the Kyler Murray was headed to the NFL, but what was surprising was that Austin Kendall, who served as Murry’s backup last season, entered the transfer portal. Kendall would eventually wind up at West Virginia and the Sooners would bring in former-Alabama QB, Jalen Hurts. Hurts was 26-2 as a starter for the Crimson Tide and accounted for 5626 passing yards, 1976 rushing yards, and 71 total touchdowns. The biggest criticism for Hurts is his ability to become a good enough passer to run Lincoln Riley’s offense. That debate has calmed down a bit after Hurts’ showing in Oklahoma’s Spring Game where he went 11-14 for 174 yards and a touchdown.
Hurts wasn’t the only transfer
The Sooners lost 4 out of their 5 starting offensive linemen to this year’s draft, leaving only Creed Humphrey returning. While Oklahoma has recruited well along the offensive line over the past few seasons, experience can be just as valuable as talent. That’s why Bill Bedenbaugh brought in UVA grad-transfer, RJ Proctor who started 12 of his 32 games played for the Cavilers. Proctor switched between both right and left guard throughout his career and was the highest graded offensive lineman in pass pro per PFF.
The Sooners have a trio of 5-star wide receivers
Oklahoma pulled off an historic haul of wide receivers for their 2019 recruiting class: #1 WR, Jadon Haselwood, #2 WR, Theo Wease, and #5 WR, Trejan Bridges. Haselwood and Wease both project as outside receivers while Bridges will likely see time at both outside and inside receiver. All of which should see time in some fashion this season albeit Bridges having the quickest path to breaking into the rotation.
A 5-star QB waiting in the wings
Back-to-back Heisman trophy’s and number one NFL draft picks was bound to turn some eyes, yeah? Well it did in 2019’s #1 QB prospect, Spencer Rattler who arrived in Norman this summer. Rattler is playing from behind due to missing the spring, so as of now, is listed #3 on the depth chart behind Tanner Mordecai, however has gotten some VERY high praise in his first fall camp. This week Rattler is playing the part of D’Eriq King on the scout team offense but his role this season should be interesting to follow as there is no denying his talent.
The season kicks off on a Sunday
A little different start the season this year as Oklahoma’s first game is set for this Sunday. With Monday being Labor Day, it’s a near perfect spot for the Sooners as they’ll not only be slated for the prime-time TV spot, it will also be a “white out” in Memorial Stadium. That’s right, everyone has been asked to wear white for Sunday’s game against the Cougars which should be a nice change from striping the stadium. If that wasn’t enough, it’s setting up to be a nice recruiting weekend for the Sooners with big prospects from both 2020 and 2021 expected to be in attendance.