DALLAS – TCU won the straw poll. Baylor is considered the only other team who can win the Big 12 Conference.
Texas has a tremendous defense, and if the Longhorns can find a way to score there is no doubt they can make some noise. Of course, Bill Snyder will always keep Kansas State in the mix and Oklahoma State’s offense can lift off at any moment.
Caught in an unfamiliar situation though is the Sooners. Oklahoma is this season’s dark horse. The Sooners almost always feature one of the top defenses in the league. Oklahoma running back Samaje Perine averaged well over 100 yards and a touchdown per game in 2014. The offensive line features All-American Ty Darlington and two massive tackles in Derek Farniok (6’9”, 340 pounds) and Josiah St. John (6’6”, 309 pounds).
Why is there any question about the Sooners chances? Well, there’s a quarterback controversy featuring three potential starters in Trevor Knight, Baker Mayfield and Cody Thomas. Oklahoma also has to replace tight end Blake Bell.
Take a sigh of relief Sooners fans. Bob Stoops is going back to what made him most successful: the Air Raid offense.
Stoops is a defensive minded coach who spent time as defensive coordinator at Kansas State and Florida under legendary coaches Bill Snyder and Steve Spurrier. When he arrived at Oklahoma, there was one coach he took notice of during his days in the Southeastern Conference. Mike Leach was hired to bring his then-unorthodox air raid attack to Oklahoma.
The Sooners finished 7-5 in the 1999 season and Leach was hired at Texas Tech after helping the squad from Norman to its first bowl game in four years. The following season, Mark Mangino was brought up and the Sooners won the 2000 Orange Bowl to claim a perfect 13-0 record, winning the BCS National Championship. After two seasons of compiling a 24-2 record as offensive coordinator with the Sooners, Mangino was swept away by Kansas. Both offensive coordinators went on to have tremendous success at non-powerhouse programs.
Since Mangino left, the Sooners have not won another national title. They’ve been to the ‘Big Game’ multiple times but could not hammer down the door. In total, four of Stoops’ former offensive coordinators have been hired as head coaches. Chuck Long did not last long (pun intended) at San Diego State. Kevin Wilson is on the hot seat at Indiana having yet to make a bowl game. Stoops fired his most recent co-offensive coordinators Jay Norvell and Josh Heupel, who was the quarterback of Stoops’ only national championship winning team. The two most successful cherries picked off of Bob’s tree are Leach and Mangino, who took the air raid offense to their new jobs. Now Stoops is bringing back the air raid with a cherry off Leach’s tree: Lincoln Riley.
Stoops said Riley’s style is extremely similar to Leach’s.
“Yes, you know, it is. My primary reason is I believe in the offense,” Stoops explained. “It’s what we started with. As you said, we kind of made it popular when I hired Mike from Kentucky from Hal Mumme, and then it spread.”
It is the offense that can take decent quarterbacks and turn them into Heisman candidates. The air raid offense is the same offense that took short wide receivers such as Wes Welker and Danny Amendola to the pinnacle of football. When every other offense turned them down, these smaller than six foot receivers were superstars going across the middle, making linebackers look silly.
So now that Stoops has the system he was most successful with, what does this mean for nasty bruiser Perine?
“We’re very aware of the quality of backs that we have and feel that we’ll take advantage of that and that that will mesh really well with what Lincoln wants to do.”
The Sooners all of a sudden have a complete offense. It is a force to be reckon with. The Sooners, who are used to being the hunted, are now the hunter. This could make for a dangerous Oklahoma team. Don’t be surprised if the Sooners run the table and get picked for the College Football Playoff.
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