Big 12 News

OU Football Trending Up Thanks to ‘Returning Experience, Competitive Depth’

ARLINGTON, Texas — Oklahoma is coming off a 6-7 season in Brent Venables’ first season, their first losing campaign since 1998. The Sooners landed in the Cheez-It Bowl, losing 35-32 to No. 11 Florida State to end their season.

Coming into the 2023 season, the Sooners hope to drastically turn things around from a season ago, when they went 0-5 in one-score games.

At Media Days on Thursday, Venables pointed to returning experience and competitive depth as reasons why his team will improve heading into their final season in the Big 12.


“I believe we’ll be better because of the returning experience,” Venables said. “We’ll be better fundamentally, we’ll be better with aggressiveness, we’ll be better with our timing and our precision and our physicality. As a result of some returning experience, guys like Danny Stutsman or Billy Bowman, Key Lawrence, Woodi Washington, Jonah [Laulu], Ethan downs, you know, and then the addition and again we’ve got nine guys six guys up front to all American linebackers a hard-hitting safety in Reggie Pearson, I believe will be better at the middle of our defense.”

He also points to the fact that the Sooners’ roster has much more competitive depth across the board, which will help in late-game situations.

“You know, I look at where we were at, really at every single position” Venables said, speaking on last season’s struggles. “We didn’t have the competitive depth a year ago, and we started the year pretty strong, you know, and then we didn’t finish the year very well. And particularly in those again, those fourth quarters of a bunch of games. We just didn’t have any juice left. You know about middle of the year on so the competitive depth will lead to better competitive stamina.”


Offensively, the Sooners return seven starters including the 2022 Big 12 Newcomer of the Year, QB Dillon Gabriel as well as second-leading rusher Jovantae Barnes and big-play receiver Jahlil Farooq.

Defensively, Oklahoma returns six starters including the Big 12’s leading tackler LB Danny Stutsman (126 tackles in 2022) and the Sooners’ sack leader in 2022, DE Ethan Downs.

OU was one of the most active teams in the transfer portal this offseason, adding major contributors on both sides of the football. On offense, Oklahoma added a pair of former four-star wide receivers in Brenan Thompson (Texas) and Andrel Anthony (Michigan). Defensively, the Sooners added two of the top players from the Big Ten and ACC a season ago with LB Dasan McCullough (Indiana) and DE Rondell Bothroyd (Wake Forest).

The Sooners will begin their 2023 campaign at home against Arkansas State on September 2. Then, OU will begin the Big 12 slate against Cincinnati on the road before returning to Norman to host Iowa State in their Big 12 home opener.

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