Big 12 Media Days are right around the corner, which means the 2023 college football season is less than two months away.
The burning questions for every team are starting to build some momentum and at media days we will finally get the answers to some of those questions.
As each fanbase prepares itself for another season of Big 12 football, we’re here to help with the three biggest questions that each team is facing before heading to Arlington for Media Days on July 12-13.
With that being said, here are the three biggest questions that the Oklahoma Sooners are facing heading into 2023 Big 12 Football Media Days.
Will We See a Brent Venables Defense in Year 2?
When Brent Venables showed up in Norman two Decembers ago, it was expected that he would immediately raise the defensive standard at Oklahoma. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case right off the bat. Oklahoma struggled mightily defensively in 2022, ranking 122nd nationally in total defense (461.0 ypg) and 99th in scoring defense (30.0 ppg). In terms of both of those metrics, it was the worst unit that Venables has ever put on the field. However, there are plenty of reasons to believe that OU will look completely different in Year 2. It goes without saying that another season in the system will help, but the Sooners have upgraded along the defensive line and brought in several key transfers on the defensive side of the ball. With new faces like DE Rondell Bothroyd, LB Dasan McCullough, S Reggie Pearson, and DL DaJon Terry, Oklahoma should be much better on that side of the ball, but will it be?
Who Will Emerge As the Top Pass Catcher for the Sooners?
Perhaps the biggest question mark on Oklahoma’s roster coming into 2023 is the wide receiver position. The Sooners must replace Marvin Mims, who hauled in 54 receptions for 1,083 yards and six touchdowns a season ago, averaging 19.4 yards per reception. They also lose TE Brayden Willis, who many would argue was Oklahoma’s best player a season ago. Jalil Farooq and Drake Stoops are the only proven pass catchers on the team that return, but does add some interesting pieces from the portal. Austin Stogner returns to Norman after one season with South Carolina and gives OU a solid option at TE, but there’s not much depth behind him. At wide receiver, the Sooners add Andrel Anthony from Michigan and Brenen Thompson from Texas, but sophomore Jayden Gibson is expected to play a major role as well. Then you have true freshman Jaquize Pettaway, who was a top 100 player nationally in last year’s cycle, that will certainly play a role of some sort.
Can Oklahoma Play Complimentary Football?
Last season, we saw Oklahoma find new ways to lose close football games as the season pressed on, and plenty of times it was due to an inability to play complimentary football. Jeff Lebby’s offensive scheme was run at a blistering pace last season, and a lot of times, it was to Oklahoma’s demise. The Sooners’ defense was on the field way too much a season ago, and that has a lot to do with their offense going three-and-out without taking more than a minute off of the clock. Last year, Oklahoma ranked 127th nationally in time of possession, with just 26:11 per game. Now, T.O.P. doesn’t necessarily correlate directly to playing good defense, but it’s not a coincidence that 11 of the Top 25 defenses from a season ago were also ranked in the Top 25 for T.O.P. If Jef Lebby can slow the offense down when its needed and give the Oklahoma defense some more time off the field, it would certainly help the Sooners out. With Brent Venables having a year under his belt as a head coach, it will be important for him to take a step as a game manager as well. Manage the clock, use timeouts wisely, and capitalize on opportunities more in 2023, and Oklahoma will look very different from a year ago.