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By | August 16, 2021 9:00 am CT
There are just 19 days remaining until the Oklahoma Sooners strap it up vs. the Tulane Green Wave down in New Orleans. The Sooners are one of the best teams in the country heading into the 2021 season and if they’re able to put it all together, it has a chance to end with their first national championship in more than 20 years.
The Sooners have had a ton of success in the conference, but the one thing that’s alluded them since that 13-2 win over Florida State for the BCS National Championship is further championship or playoff success.
Could this be the year they finally break through in the college football playoff?
Only time will tell, but this looks to be Lincoln Riley’s most complete team during his run as the Oklahoma Sooners’ head coach. The defense has become a strength of the team and should help make games easier for an offense that’s had to score 40 and 50 points a game to have a chance to win just a few years ago.
Now, with Alex Grinch’s unit getting better talent across the board developed and making plays, the defense looks ready to help the Oklahoma Sooners compete. No longer are they simply along for the ride.
Obviously, those that cover the team are optimistic about OU’s outlook for the 2021 season, but what does the rest of the Big 12 think about the Oklahoma Sooners heading into 2021.
Athlon Sports spoke with anonymous Big 12 coaches to get a feel for where the Sooners are headed in the 2021 season.
Photo by James D. Smith/CBAA
They’re the most talented team in the league, by far.
On paper, they certainly look like it. Even with the losses of Creed Humphrey, Ronnie Perkins, Rhamondre Stevenson, Adrian Ealy, Tre Brown, and Tre Norwood, the Sooners are arguably, a more talented team in 2021 than they were last year.
Spencer Rattler now has a full year under his belt. The offensive line is returning three of their five starters from last year. Wanya Morris and Andrew Raym are expected to take over for Ealy and Humphrey, and their talent might make this a better unit as a whole. The secondary is beginning to resemble the type of player and style of play that Alex Grinch has been building toward during his time with the Sooners.
To live up to the lofty expectations thrown at this team, they’ll need to prove they’re the most talented squad every Saturday this fall.
Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
The QB (Spencer Rattler) made his mistakes early on, you could rattle him early on in the season and he wasn’t completely comfortable in that system. He got better down the stretch with his decision-making and looked a lot calmer. The thing is, their offensive skill is at such a level where they can bail him out. They have legit scoring threats across the field on every play.
In the early part of the season, there was no margin for error against high-quality teams like Kansas State, Iowa State, and Texas, and yet Spencer Rattler wasn’t playing clean football.
His mistakes led to a benching against Texas, but when he came back into the lineup in the second half, he displayed better decision-making and didn’t force as many throws. Now armed with a full offseason to develop chemistry with his wide receivers, Rattler should take a big step forward in his production.
Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
The line is really well-coached. Everything that offense does is built on the counter-trey, GT-counter, whatever you want to call it.
The Oklahoma Sooners have one of the best position coaches in college football in Offensive Line Coach Bill Bedenbaugh. His ability to develop and reload on the offensive line every year is incredible.
Though Lincoln Riley’s offense often gets credited with high-flying passing attacks, running the football is incredibly vital to the Sooners offense. Riley likes to run a lot of play-action, and if the offensive line weren’t good, it would be difficult to do it.
Everything starts up front for the Oklahoma Sooners, and they’re a big reason why the quarterbacks and running backs have had so much success during Lincoln Riley’s tenure.
Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
It’s a system where everyone is in sync and they’ve got lethal dudes who can make plays.
The Sooners can roll out six wide receivers who can make plays in the passing game. Their running back depth chart runs four deep with guys who could start and carry the load for the Sooners. In Austin Stogner and Jeremiah Hall, they’ve got a couple of the best tight ends/h-backs in college football.
Defenses will have a tough time figuring out who to focus their attention on in this offense.
AP Photo/Jeffrey McWhorter, File
One of the biggest changes in this league has been the evolution of their defense under Lincoln [Riley]. Alex [Grinch] does a lot of stuff up front, stunts, twists and movement that cause you issues. They give you a lot of looks.
In Alex Grinch’s time with the Oklahoma Sooners, the defense has gotten better each year. Toward the end of the 2020 season, the defense started to look more like an asset than a liability. Like the offense, everything starts up front for Alex Grinch and the defense.
Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
The [Perrion] Winfrey kid, the inside DL, he was an absolute monster to handle. Their ends are great. When [Ronnie] Perkins came back it really brought them up to another level.
Perrion Winfrey provided a nice push up the middle, and the edge players took a big step forward in 2020. In 2021, they get Jalen Redmond back to bolster a defensive line that already featured two players with eight-plus sacks in 2020 in Nik Bonitto and Isaiah Thomas.
The Sooners defensive front might be the best in the country in 2021 with those four.
Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
They were OK at safety and corner. If there’s an area to exploit it was probably there. But on the whole, this defense has really improved while keeping everything rolling on offense.
Woodi Washington and D.J. Graham showed a proclivity for making plays on the football in 2020. The safeties are experienced. If there is a weakness, I guess one could argue that it’s in the secondary. However, being the “weakness” of the Oklahoma Sooners defense isn’t what it used to be. The defense has become a strength for this team, and the growth of the secondary is a huge part of that.
Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
I think you pencil them in as a national contender if they can bring along the QB this year.
They’re one of the five favorites to hoist the national championship trophy at the end of the season, and for good reason. They’re an experienced, well-coached team with a plethora of playmakers on both sides of the football. They’re capable of creating big plays on both offense and defense that will lead to a lot of points for the offense and a lot of takeaways for the defense.
Sep 1, 2019; Norman, OK, USA; Oklahoma Sooners athletic director Joe Castiglione before the game against the Houston Cougars at Gaylord Family – Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
This is the most complete program in the Big 12.
From top to bottom, everything about the Oklahoma Sooners produces excellence. The Sooners have an excellent organization, from the outstanding media packages to highlight their players to the training staff that keeps them healthy and well prepared for gameday.
The athletic department serves as a foundation for the Sooners’ excellence on the football field year in and year out. They’ve carried over that excellence on the field as one of the most successful football programs of the last 20 years.
As good as they’ve been during Lincoln Riley’s tenure, they have an incredible future to look forward to as well, starting in 2021.
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