Storylines to Watch
The Sooners without Baker
This might seem like a cheap storyline, but it’s something that everyone watching Oklahoma is going to be talking about and rightfully so. Baker Mayfield was the 2017 Heisman Trophy winner and a simply perfect player to helm the offense last season. He was insanely accurate as a passer, but was also a playmaker with an innate ability to make something out of nothing with the ball in his hands.
More than just his ability, though, there’s no questioning that Mayfield was the fire that burned under the rear-ends of everyone in Norman last season. Some call it arrogance or cockiness, but Mayfield’s brash behavior was a spark that carried OU through many key moments throughout his career. Now that he’s gone, it’ll be interesting to see what the attitude of the team like is in the spring game and moving forward.
Can the defense improve?
The Sooners were one of the most exciting teams in college football last season with signature wins over a a number of opponents. What’s more, they were tantalizingly close to usurping the Georgia Bulldogs and making it into the National Championship Game. Perhaps the most impressive part of this, however, is that they were able to accomplish what they did with a less-than-stellar defense.
While the team was an offensive force, they almost had to be with the amount of scoring their defense conceded a year ago. Now the task will be getting the defense a little bit closer to the level of the Sooners offense, though asking it to get on the same tier seems like a bit too much to hope for. We’ll see if any newcomers can help make that happen.
Lincoln Riley’s encore
One question that will be iterated throughout the offseason until the Sooners take the field in Week 1 is simple and related to another storyline: Just how good is Lincoln Riley? We know that Baker Mayfield is an unforgettable talent, leader and gamer. However, what we don’t know is what a Riley coached team looks like without Mayfield taking the snaps.
Yes, Murray has potential and Riley will most certainly have talent around his new quarterback to make some noise when Oklahoma has the pigskin. But the second-year head coach was touted all year for his offensive schematics and how seamlessly he took over the Sooners program. Now he has to confirm all of the pleasantries that have been thrown at him to this point in his sophomore campaign at the helm of this program.