The Residential Library

The sometimes demented, frequently irreverent, and occasionally stupid musings of Ron Hargrove

2021 OU Football Preview

July 17, 2021

With only 7 weeks till opening kickoff, it’s not too soon to get Sooner Fever!
In that vein, let’s talk about prospects.  “Prospects” as in the team’s prospects for a 7th consecutive conference championship, and “prospects” as in new additions to the team that could make a difference.
Here are my thoughts on the 2021 Sooners whether you like it or not.  


1. Projected starting lineup (returning starters in bold)

  • WR-X   Theo Wease  (JR)
    • Tied for team lead in receptions with 37
  • WR-Y   Jadon Haselwood  (RS SO)
    • Was the #1 WR recruit in the nation 2 years ago
    • Replaces Charleston Rambo (xfer to Wash.) who was a disappointment last year
    • This should be a significant upgrade
  • WR-Z   Marvin Mims  (SO)
    • Freshman All-America team
    • 2nd team All-Big 12
    • Rated #9 WR in the nation as a freshman by PFF
    • Tied for Big 12 lead in receiving TDs with 9
  • LT         Wanya Morris  (JR TR)
    • Transferred from Tennessee
    • Replaces last year’s returning starter Anton Harrison
    • 247Sports True Freshman All-America Team two years ago
    • Last season allowed 2 sacks on 195 pass-blocking plays and was flagged for just 3 penalties on 398 total snaps
    • This should be an upgrade
  • LG        Marquis Hayes  (RS SR)
    • Allowed just 2 sacks on 416 pass plays
  • OC       Andrew Raym  (SO)
    • Replaces Creed Humphreys (NFL)
    • In high school ranked the No. 1 offensive guard in the country by 247Sports and consensus No. 1 player in the state of Oklahoma
    • Definite downgrade and likely weakest link on offense
  • RG       Tyrese Robinson  (RS SR)
    • Allowed just 2 sacks on 400 pass plays
  • RT        Erik Swenson  (RS SR)
    • Graded the highest among team starters last year by PFF
    • Did not allow a sack on 272 pass-blocking plays
  • H-B       Austin Stogner  (JR)
    • 2nd team All-Big 12
  • QB        Spencer Rattler  (RS SO)
    • Was the #1 QB recruit in the nation 2 years ago
    • Davey O’Brien Award Semifinalist
    • Named national freshman of the year by CBS Sports
    • Freshman All-America team
    • 1st team All-Big 12 (AP)
  • RB        Kennedy Brooks  (RS JR)
    • 2nd team All-Big 12 two years ago (before sitting out last year)
    • Ranked 1st in Big 12 by averaging 6.5 yards per carry
    • Replaces Rhamondre Stevenson (NFL)
    • Should be at least equal, could be an upgrade

2. Theoretically, the OU offense should be better at each of the 7 positions where they have returning starters.  Experience and maturing physically should make those players better (unless they get injured).  They will likely be better at 2 of the other 4 positions where they have new starters.  Haselwood is a stud WR waiting to explode and he replaces Rambo who wasn’t much of a factor last year despite high expectations.  And Tennessee transfer Morris wouldn’t be the projected starter over last year’s starter Harrison if he wasn’t thought to be better.  At RB, Brooks replacing Stevenson is probably a wash even as good as Stevenson was last year.  Brooks has been awesome since his freshman year.  And he’s got fresh legs this year.  And he isn’t likely to miss all the games that Stevenson missed.  The only position where OU takes a step backward is at center.  Raym can’t be expected to fill Humphreys’ shoes in his first year as a starter.  However, it won’t be long before Raym is an asset.  As the #1 ranked guard in the nation as a high schooler, he has to be a stud.

3. The addition of transfer players and elite high school recruits will give OU depth on offense.  The bench will include 4 transfers who started elsewhere last year — WR Wood (Ark.), C Congel (Ariz.), RB Gray (Tenn.), and RB Bradford (LSU), not to mention a transfer who will be a starter LT Morris (Tenn.).  OU landed 2 high school recruits for the offense that will be fun to watch whenever they get their chance to play:

  • QB          Caleb Williams
    • #1 high school QB in the nation
    • #1 high school player in the nation (Sports Illustrated)
  • WR          Mario Williams
    • #1 high school WR in the nation (ESPN)
    • #15 high school player in the nation (Rivals)

    1. Projected starting lineup (returning starters in bold)

    • DE         Isaiah Thomas  (RS SR)   
      • 2nd team All-Big 12
      • Ranked #74 player in the nation last year by PFF
    • NT         Perrion Winfrey  (SR TR)   
      • 2nd team All-Big 12
    • DT         LaRon Stokes  (SR TR)   
    • EDGE    Nik Bonitto  (RS JR)     
      • 1st team All-American (PFF)
      • 2nd team All-American (AP)
      • Ranked #1 in the nation in pressure rate (PFF)
      • Ranked #1 in the nation among edge rushers in pass-rush grade and pass-rush win rate (PFF)
    • MIKE     DaShaun White  (SR)   
    • WILL      Brian Asamoah  (RS JR)   
    • LCB       Jaden Davis  (JR)   
    • SS          Delarrin Turner-Yell  (SR)   
    • FS          Pat Fields  (SR)   
    • RCB       Woodi Washington  (RS SO)   
      • Ranked #7 CB in high school in the nation 2 years ago
    • NB         Jeremiah Criddell  (RS SO)   
      • High school All-American (Under Armour)
      • High school #5 safety in the nation (ESPN)

    2. The defense should be better, like the offense, because they have so many starters back.  OU has 9 starters returning!  Ronnie Perkins will be missed, but with Thomas, Winfrey and Bonitto they should still have a daunting pash rush.  Tre Brown graduated, but he’ll be replaced by Washington who played well as a freshman and became a starter at the end of the season.  Radley-Hiles transferred to Washington, but he was penalty-prone and that won’t be missed.  His replacement, Criddell, has a lot of potential.

    3. OU landed 2 high school recruits for the deffense that will be fun to watch whenever they get their chance to play:

  • Edge       Clayton Smith
    • #2 high school Edge in the nation
    • #23 high school player in the nation (Rivals)
  • ATH         Billy Bowman
    • #2 high school ATH in the nation (Rivals)
    • #39 high school player in the nation (247Sports)
    • Played WR and CB in high school, projected as NB in OU secondary


    1. Projected starting lineup (returning starters in bold)
    • PK          Gabe Brkic  (RS JR)
      • 1st team All-Big 12
      • Lou Groza Award semifinalist 2 years in a row
      • 1st team All-American (CBS Sports) 2 years ago
    • PT          Reeves Mundschau  (RS SR)
    • KR          Mario Williams  (FR)
      • Ranked #1 WR recruit in the nation (ESPN)
      • Plans to play OU baseball too
    • PR          Marvin Mims  (SO)


    This looks like it will be a down year for the Big 12. (Cue the sad trombones). ESPN ranks only Texas, Iowa State and Oklahoma in their preseason Top 25. #22 Texas has a new head coach and new defensive coordinator. It lost its star QB Ehlinger and stud LB Ossai to the NFL. Then leading tackler Mitchell transferred to Tennessee. I don’t see how they pose a threat to OU this year.

    Iowa State is another matter.  ESPN says they’re the 6th best team in the country.  Damn!  Iowa State?  Yes, Iowa State.  They were really good last year and have 10 starters returning on offense and 9 on defense.  Their star QB, RB and WR are all returning.  Head Coach Matt Campbell has made something big out of nothing.  They should coast into the Big 12 Championship game.  And the only thing standing between them and a Big 12 title and a potential national playoff spot is OU.  But that’s going to be a big problem.  Iowa State plays at OU this season in the next to last game of the regular season (just before Thanksgiving).  That game could be a meaningless game as far as the conference championship though, because both teams will probably have clinched spots in the title game by then.  In the title game Iowa probably has to hope that OU has several key injuries.  Otherwise, their chances aren’t good.  And here’s why….

    ESPN ranks OU #1 preseason.  They cite all the returning starters and all the transfers.  (In fact, ESPN thinks all 3 Tennessee transfers (an OT, RB and a S) could be starters.  And they don’t even gush over Spencer Rattler the way PFF does.  [PFF is Pro Football Focus, a website that focuses on thorough analysis of the NFL  and NCAA Division-I football].  PFF has rated the starting QBs at all 130 schools for the coming season.  Then it broke them into different tiers with the top tier being The Elite followed by High-Ceiling QBs, The Good, Not Great, etc.  See how they rated the QBs at the power schools:

    The Elite 

    #1  Spencer Rattler (OU)

    High-Ceiling QBs

     .#8  D.J. Uiagalelei (Clemson)
    #17  Brock Purdy (Iowa State)
    #20  C.J. Stroud (Ohio State)
    #22  Bryce Young (Alabama)
    #23  J.T. Daniels (Georgia)

    Out of the 130 QBs rated, Rattler was the only one they considered Elite.  Last year he had the 6th highest grade of any Power Five QB in the PFF College Era (which started 7 years ago).  All 5 of the QBs ahead of him were upperclassmen.  Of course, Rattler was a RS freshman.  Here’s how they described him:

    “Rattler has a little bit of Texas Tech Patrick Mahomes in him, both stylistically and situationally. He has an ultra-quick, effortless release to pair with jaw-dropping arm talent and elite playmaking ability outside of structure. The Oklahoma quarterback produced a 91.3 passing grade and a 69.7% accurate-pass rate when creating off structure in 2020, both of which led all FBS passers. That passing grade beat out Joe Burrow for the best grade ever earned by a Power Five quarterback.

    Rattler is the best player returning to college football and should be the favorite to win the Heisman Trophy.

    The defense rests, your Honor.

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