Rejects false narratives about the Sooners

Oklahoma football has had a very rough season, and the rollercoaster season has created a miniature chasm among the fan base in terms of identifying what the problems are in the program. Some have alluded to it being coaching, others point to talent, and some simply to the amount of turnover. There are several ways to look at the subject and today I am debunking some false narratives that are out there. Things haven’t gone well this year, as OU is just 5-5. With two losses at home, two blowout losses early in the year back to back, and a loss at West Virginia, that might be an understatement. The reality is that there really are no excuses or reasoning to explain away this level of futility from a program like OU.

Narrative #1: Lack of talent

Many people believe that the talent on Oklahoma’s football roster simply can’t hack it. The turnover and mix and match parts OU added from the portal are just not up to par.

Tim’s Verdict: FALSE

Oklahoma football has plenty of talent, no matter how you measure talent, Oklahoma has one of the best rosters in all of sports. The Sooners have 54 four- or five-star prospects on their roster and are fourth in the nation in blue chip rate. Oklahoma has several top-tier players that they won in direct competition to recruit with other major programs. There isn’t that much of a difference in talent from attack to defense either. Of the 44 two-deep, Oklahoma has only eight players among them who weren’t at least a four-star out of high school or as a transfer. Each of those eight is also directly backed up by a blue-chip prospect. Talent is not an issue in Oklahoma, and it looks like it will only continue to build going forward. Some of the top talent is young on the roster, and with the Sooners losing so many close games, it’s not hard to envision a future with a team that’s improved simply by gaining experience.

Narrative #2: Venables doesn’t have the right players to run his scheme or size

The cupboard was not left bare by Lincoln Riley and Alex Grinch. Defensively, the Sooners have the quality players to fit the basic 4-2-5 scheme Brent Venables likes to run. These players not only have the talent, but sufficient size.

Tim’s Verdict: Mixed

While Oklahoma has size players at every position on the field on defense and has the personnel to run the 4-2-5 scheme, it’s true that Oklahoma doesn’t have enough bodies to play nose guard when Brent’s multiple defense decides to go for the three-down approach. In the three-down scheme, you need a guy with his head up the middle who can hold two holes, or take two blocks, Isaiah Coe fits that mold, but no one else does at the moment. Oklahoma will need to develop kids and bring in transfers or recruit guys who can play the nose.

Narrative #3: Culture rebuild too much for year one

Some claim that Oklahoma had a broken program under Lincoln Riley that lacked player development, among other dire issues that bleed over.

Tim’s position: FALSE

Lincoln Riley’s program had some flaws no doubt, looking directly at Bennie Wylie. However, the program was NOT fundamentally broken. Oklahoma didn’t lose more than two games in any season under Lincoln Riley and hadn’t had fewer than 11 wins (aside from the Covid-shortened season) since 2014. Oklahoma played the portal game well and brought in high school talent that was the envy of everyone , but a handful of programs around the country. Riley may not be a morally strong guy for the way he left Oklahoma or what he tried to do on his way out. But Riley is an excellent leader, he continues to prove his mettle on the West Coast. While S&C needed work, the Sooners already have a great administration and culture.

Narrative #4: Oklahoma recruiting class will fall apart

Many people are concerned that this Oklahoma recruiting class will fall apart. Rumors about Anthony Evans and the recent turns of Kaleb Spencer and Colton Vasek. Understandably, people are nervous. But the core of this class is strong and locked in, starting with 5-star QB Jackson Arnold and EDGE PJ Adebawore, among others.

Tim’s Verdict: FALSE

This class will get stronger, and while it’s not impossible Oklahoma could lose, says Anthony Evans, they’re far from done adding players themselves. This class has a great chance to finish in the top five.

Narrative #5: Coaching has been bad

Coaching has been questionable at times for Oklahoma, from implementing the comically large game plans to running formations that don’t suit player strengths and playing players out of position, there have been some questionable coaching moves this year.

Tim’s verdict: TRUE, but correctable

This is Brent Venable’s first year as a head coach and he has to wear many hats, there are also some assistants who probably shouldn’t return to Oklahoma in 2023. This is one area where a little experience could be a huge boost next season. Will Brent take that step? It is a question that has yet to be answered.

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