With spring practice set to begin on Saturday, the Sooners enter arguably the most critical offseason in the Stoops era.
Bob Stoops' 2013 team has many question marks heading into spring practice.
Gone, are several starters and key contributors from last year’s squad. This leaves a lot of question marks heading into spring practice.
Four days is all that separates the Sooners from entering spring practice. Several things need to be achieved during their allotment of 15 practices, but here are four that stand out the most.
Quarterback Battle- The battle for the starting job at quarterback will be a three-horse race between Blake Bell, Trevor Knight and Kendal Thompson. 15 spring practices will provide the opportunity for one guy to separate himself from the group. That would be ideal in the coaching staff’s eyes. The staff doesn’t need to announce who the starter is heading into training camp, but it would be ideal for them to know who the guy will be.
The one thing that all three guys lack is experience. Sure, Bell has seen the field many times, but only in short-yardage situations. If one guy emerges from the pack this spring, and asserts himself as the starter, not only will the coaching staff know who their guy is, but they can start game-planning in the offseason to adjust the offense that fits the starter most suitably.
Defensive Scheme- There’s been rumbling all off-season that the Sooners plan to install a 3-4 look on defense. If so, fine, but that needs to happen in the spring. Don’t wait until training camp to start running it, familiarize your defense now and give them as much time as possible to adjust and learn the system.
The 3-4 defense requires you to have three, large defensive lineman. Find guys that best suit these positions and make the move. The toughest part, will be finding a nose tackle who can successfully control his gaps. Seeing as the Sooners enter spring practice with only three defensive tackles, this will not be easy considering the pool is not deep to choose from.
This move could end up paying big dividends for the defense, but it’s definitely not a transition you can make overnight.
Position Changes- This is mostly directed at the defense. If a 3-4 front is indeed in the future plans for the Sooners, this will require some players to make position changes.
Blake Bell (No. 10) will battle this spring with Trevor Knight and Kendall Thompson for the starting quarterback job.
All of that needs to be sorted out in the spring. Move guys accordingly to where they fit best, and give them a chance to make an impact at their respective positions.
Staying Healthy- Staying injury-free is a key for any team, but seeing how thin the Sooners are at defensive tackle and linebacker, it’s a must.
An injury to a defensive tackle that sidelines him for any amount of time would really hurt this team. They’re having a hard enough time trying to find bodies, and if the quality ones they have aren’t active, it will be tough to get even get through a practice.
The last thing the Sooners want, is to duplicate the injury problems they've had the past two seasons.