2022 Oklahoma Sooners Preview

by Matt Fargo

Oklahoma Sooners

2021-22 Season Record 11-2 (7-2 Big 12) - 6-6-1 ATS - 8-5-0 O/U

Returning Starters

Offense - 5
Defense - 5

Overview

If there was a season for former head coach Lincoln Riley to jump ship, this is probably the one. It was a very good recruiting year but a lot of unknowns were probably factored into the decision such as returning production into 2022 was low with a ranking of No. 71, just 10 starters were returning and a future move to the SEC. Riley sustained what Bob Stoops put together at the turn of the century and that was a winning culture as he went 55-10 in five seasons, finished ranked in the top ten each year and extended the bowl run to 23 consecutive seasons. Brent Venables has finally gotten his chance after spending the last 10 years as the Clemson defensive coordinator including the last four as assistant head coach and he is walking into a very good, but not ideal situation as there is work to be done as the Sooners will be ranked outside the top ten for the first time since 2015.

Offense

The Sooners were pretty well balanced on offense last season but it has been a regression in each of the last four years and it bottomed out last season with 442.1 ypg which is still very good but that was No. 31 in the nation, well below previous seasons. Both Caleb Williams and Spencer Rattler transferred out leaving a big hole at quarterback that will be taken over by Dillon Gabriel who comes over from Central Florida. He will be learning a whole new system under a brand new staff but has Marvin Mims who had 705 yards last season and Theo Wease who had 530 yards in 2020 at his disposal. Leading rusher Kennedy Brooks ran for 1,253 yards and 13 touchdowns but he has departed and his backup Eric Gray will take over as lead back. The offensive success will have a lot to do with the offensive line that underachieved last season and is basically being retooled throughout.

Defense

The defense regressed slightly from 2020 and the Sooners finished No. 70 in total defense and No. 57 in scoring defense but that should change this season. How much change will depend on a slew of transfers that are coming in to work with just five returning starters. Venables certainly knows defense as does new defensive coordinator Ted Roof but this is his sixth different school in six years and was a defensive assistant under Venables last season. Jalen Redmond and Reggie Grimes bring experience up front as they combined for 5.5 sacks last season but the pass rush needs to make more plays. The linebacking corps took a big hit with leading tackler Brian Asamoah off to the Vikings and sack leader Nik Bonitto off to the Broncos and this unit will be a work in progress. The secondary will also feature plenty of new faces with safety Key Lawrence being the lone notable holdover.

2022 Season Outlook

It will be a different look for the Sooners this season but the offense will continue to push the ball under new offensive coordinator Jeff Lebby who led prolific offenses at UCF and Mississippi. The defense could be the deciding factor overall. The Big 12 is wide open this season with the Sooners a slight favorite, closely followed by Texas, Oklahoma St. and Baylor and the schedule is in their favor. Home games against UTEP and Kent St. open the season and then they have a tricky game at formal rival Nebraska before conference play kicks off. There are always hurdles in conference road games but there are no killers on the schedule, Iowa St. being the toughest, and the Sooners get Oklahoma St. and Baylor at home and Texas on a neutral field at the Cotton Bowl. The O/U win total is set at 9.5 which is high for so much turnover at all areas but a tame schedule makes up for that. 

All photographic images used for editorial content have been licensed from the Associated Press.

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