I’ve been debating whether it’s too early or not to grade the Sooners. So far, it’s a team with a lot of variables and such a small sample size making it tough to really tell where they are. However, with Oklahoma heading into their week 3 match-up against the UCLA Bruins (week 3 already?!), let’s see if we can get a benchmark set.
Quarterback: Last week showed Oklahoma’s depth at quarterback is maybe the best in the country, but no one’s performance matters more than Jalen Hurts. Hurts hasn’t had the luxury of learning Lincoln Riley’s system as his predecessors did and it shows. While the Alabama grad-transfer has put up impressive stats in his first two outings, there are obvious hesitations and maybe an over-willingness to run at times. Will these be season-long issues? Likely not as even Baker took some time to really find his stride in his first season running the offense, but it will take some time. His leadership however has been nothing but excellent and will be leaned on in Big 12 play.
Running Back: Oklahoma really hasn’t ran the ball like many assumed they would early in the season. If you take away Hurts’ attempts, the Sooners have ran the ball just 42 attempts between their 3 main rushers. Trey Sermon gets the bulk of those carries and rightfully so. The junior out of Georgia really looks to have taken his game to the next level as he looks to be more decisive and a new burst at the second level. Brooks is still being limited, and maybe understandably so given his off-season. After a forgettable start, Rhamondre Stevenson looks to be a guy that can really be big-time player for the Sooners later in the season. That trio is nearly averaging 10 ypc through two weeks,
Wide Receiver: This is the easiest group to grade. CeeDee Lamb has been true to form so far this season. At the Z-receiver position, you have a nice one-two punch with Charleston Rambo and Jadon Haselwood splitting time, both of which look to be ready to breakout this season. A bunch of depth behind them as AD Miller (what?!), Trejan Bridges, Nick Basquine, and Theo Wease have shown to be contributors.
Offensive Line: Oklahoma was bound to have some issues upfront when replacing four starters from a year ago. At times, Bedenbaugh looks to have a stingy group, but they haven’t found much, if any, consistency early. Week one was by-in-larger their better outing as they looked sloppy and at times, playing down the level of South Dakota. They may be due to the absence of Marquise Hayes, but even with him back in the starting lineup, the group has a ways to go.
Tight End & Fullback: If it wasn’t for Jeremiah Hall, this group wouldn’t have much of a grade. Early on, the TE position has been used sparingly, and I suspect for a reason. However, Jeremiah Hall has shown significant promise in short-yardage situations in the red-zone. As the season goes on, we’ll see if they roles change a bit, but right now it’s tough to grade such a small sample size.
Defensive Line: All summer we talked about how much this group meant to fielding a good defense and they’ve delivered. Neville Gallimore, Ronnie Perkins, and Jalen Redmond look to be a stout group when it comes to pass rush, but leave a bit to be desired against the run. LaRon Stokes and the return of Dillion Faamatau should give this group plenty of depth, while there is some intrigue that true-freshman, Marcus Stripling could contribute as the season goes on.
Linebackers: Hard to knock much of what Kenneth Murray has done this season. Murray has NFL-caliber talent, and for the first time, it looks as though he’s finally out there simply playing the game. No more pausing to make a read or dropping into coverage, Grinch has him playing fast and downhill. DeShaun White may have started to separate himself from Ryan Jones at the WILL, but it’s expected that there will be some shared time for at least a little longer. For the first time in awhile…
Cornerbacks: Tre Brown and Parnell Motley got a decent test in week one and overall played alright. Against South Dakota, they were a little more loose in coverage in the middle of the field, but stepped it up in the red-zone. That’s not ideal, but for the worst passing defense in the nation last season, it’s at least an improvement. The one bright spot? True-freshman, Jaden Davis really looks the part early. One has the wonder if either starter struggles, does Davis get a strong look with the 1’s.
Safety: As with corners, the play is really just alright. Nothing spectacular, but no glaring issues so far. I’m throwing in Brendan Radley-Hiles here, which will undoubtedly raise this groups overall grade as he was nails last week against South Dakota. Bookie looked to be playing fast and with the instincts that made him one the nation’s top recruits in 2018. While you can debate the competition level, making those type of plays can go a long ways as far as building confidence. Delarrin Turner-Yell and Patrick Fields have played at a decent level, but their play really hasn’t stood out as much comparatively. Something tells me this is still a very fluid rotation until they show noticeable progress against Big 12 offenses.