A look at the Big 12: Oklahoma preview


Redshirt junior defensive back Kenneth Lynn dives for the Oklahoma ball carrier Nov. 1, 2014. The Cyclones fell to the No. 19 Sooners with a final score of 59-14.

Luke Manderfeld

The Oklahoma Sooners were on the outside looking in last season in the Big 12. Their 8-4 record left them fourth in the Big 12 standings and two games behind third-place finisher Kansas State. 

Although it may have been a disappointing season for Oklahoma, the upcoming season has a chance to revitalize the big hopes of last season. The Sooners grabbed the No. 19 spot in this year’s AP preseason coaches poll. 

Oklahoma will have some question marks, losing four players on its offensive line and attempting to improve on its dismal passing defense that ranked 117th in the NCAA last season in passing yards allowed. 


During the offseason, Oklahoma switched to offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley, who spent last season helping an East Carolina team ascend in the NCAA standings. Riley is notorious for spreading out the offense, but an integral part of his game plan is a quarterback who can control and make plays. 

Unfortunately for Riley, the Sooners’ question marks begin at the quarterback position.

Despite solidifying his role as the starting quarterback to begin last season, Trevor Knight struggled at times in his sophomore year. 

He threw 12 interceptions against his 14 touchdown passes to go with a 56.6 percent completion rate. His 2,300 yards in 316 pass attempts gave him a 124.8 passer rating on top of his 316 rushing yards.  

Baker Mayfield, a transfer from Texas Tech, may have a shot to overtake Knight as he threw for 2,315 yards in his freshman season with the Aggies. 

He sat out last season because of transfer rules. 

Despite the quarterback troubles, Oklahoma will have a strong running game to rely on with Samaje Perine in the backfield. 

Perine ran for 1,713 yards last season and averaged 6.5 yards per carry. With the weak passing game, Perine could become the main point in the Sooners’ offense. 

Oklahoma’s offensive line is losing four of last season’s starters, but still will have talent to bolster the rushing game. Senior center Ty Darlington and senior guard Nila Kasitati will head the young offensive line. 


The Sooners’ defense had no trouble stopping the running game last season, ranking 11th in the NCAA in rushing yards allowed, but the Achilles heel came from the team’s secondary that allowed 3,272 passing yards. 

The formidable rushing defense took a hit in the offseason after defensive tackle Jordan Phillips decided to join the NFL, but the majority of reports out of the Sooners’ spring camp show that sophomore Charles Walker is a capable replacement. 

The defensive end position will see a rotation of senior Charles Tapper, junior Matt Dimon and redshirt sophomore D.J. Ward. Tappers will head the trio, earning an All-Big 12 honorable mention last season with three sacks and 7.5 tackles for loss. 

Behind the defensive line will be All-Big 12 first team linebacker Eric Striker. Striker, who also earned third team All-America honors, led the Sooners with 17 tackles for loss to go along with nine sacks. He also tallied 68 tackles to add to the 124 in his career. 

All-Big 12 first team cornerback Zack Sanchez tallied six interceptions and eight pass breakups last season, but it wasn’t enough to help the struggling pass defense.

Sophomore safety Steven Parker was an All-Big 12 honorable mention last season and assisted Sanchez in the secondary. He rose to a key role with six pass breakups and 31 tackles.

Oklahoma opens its season Aug. 30 at home in Norman, Okla. against Louisiana Tech.