Happy New Year, Sooner Nation! I don’t know about you, but thank goodness it’s 2012!
This past year/season has been a really rough for the Sooners (and fans). But it didn’t start that way. Let’s begin with the Fiesta Bowl victory over Connecticut.
Soon after this BCS bowl win, Sooner Nation was feeling pretty good. Who wouldn’t? Landry Jones, Ryan Broyles and Travis Lewis announced they were returning to OU for “another Big XII Championship and a run at the National Championship”. It sparked excitement that another crystal football was soon to be in the Switzer Center.
Next came National Signing Day, where Stoops and crew signed another quality class, filling some needs and creating better depth. Some incoming freshmen would possibly (and did) see playing time.
Heck, even April’s spring practice was good. No major injuries. Everyone gelling and building chemistry. What could any championship-contending collegiate team wish for?
Then something happened that NO team, collegiate or pro, wants. Sooner linebacker, Austin Box, was found dead in an El Reno home. Austin was a projected starter and finishing his career as a Sooner. Sadly this was the first of many major loses this season.
Ranked #1 in pre-season polls, OU played very well and reeled off 6 straight wins of the 2011 season. Along the way, we discovered runningback Dominique Whaley was more than just a walk-on. We also found out who didn’t “get with the program”. Jermie Calhoun decided he wasn’t going to play despite being 3rd on the halfback depth chart. Too bad for him since he had his chance when Brennan Clay and Roy Finch took turns getting hurt. Tight-end Austin Haywood also bolted for greener pastures.
MY TAKE: Anytime this happens, I always defer to Switzer’s famous quote; “Come to Oklahoma and win championships. Go somewhere else and watch Oklahoma win championships” (or something like that). Defectors as these have their reasons, although it makes one wonder what’s going on inside the program that they came to this decision.
Inexplicably, the Sooners took a week off by not showing up until the mid 4th quarter of the Texas Tech game. The Red Raiders were doing everything right. And the OU offense, defense and special teams were collectively doing it all wrong. Guess they forgot about that ranking, BCS hopes and home-winning streak. This was the beginning of the end of OU’s National Title dream.
The following week against Kansas State, OU’s budding star Dominique Whaley fractured his ankle on the first play of the game. Thankfully a capable Finch took over. This season was looking more bleak with OU losing their leading rusher.
Against the defecting Texas A&M Aggies, OU receiver and record breaker Ryan Broyles suffered an ACL tear and will not finish the year. The Sooners get the win but regrouping after losing your leading rusher and receiver was going to be a serious challenge.
Up next was Baylor and super athlete Robert Griffin III (RG3). The Bears have moved up in talent and it showed. Unfortunately, the OU defense had a “Jekyll & Hyde moment” by not playing as they had in the first 6 games. The offense wasn’t the same without Whaley and Broyles and unable to play catch up. This loss knocked OU’s ranking down a little, but they were not out. They still had a chance.
After trouncing Iowa State, Bedlam had arrived and a lot was on the line: state pride, Big XII Champion and a trip to the BCS National Championship game. This is a game that your play makers show up. Unfortunately, OU’s didn’t. Let it be known that Landry Jones hadn’t thrown a TD in the past 2 games. OU seemed to be out of Sooner Magic and incapable of being competitive. The end resulted in a loss, with a consolation “prize” to the worthless Insight Bowl against the Iowa Hawkeyes.
Between Bedlam and the bowl game there was a handful of more loses. Jaz Reynolds had been hurt and was not available for the bowl, hurting the WR corp even further. Also, stud freshman running back Brandon Williams was missing family and decided to leave OU (and rumored to transfer to Texas A&M).
To conclude, this wasn’t OU’s year evident by the loss to Texas Tech. Plus, losing your major contributors greatly decreases your chances of winning consistently.
Now that it’s a new year, I can’t wait for a new recruiting class and possibly the return of Mike Stoops! Thank goodness it’s 2012!