July 7, 2007

A look ahead to the 2007 season

We are less than a month away from the beginning of fall practices at the University of Oklahoma. The Sooners will get ready for the 2007 season with many questions yet to be answered at quarterback and throughout the defense.

With Miami coming up as the second game of the season, the Sooners will have to have some of those questions answered very early in the season.

SoonerScoop.com Editor Carey Murdock was recently asked to give his thoughts on the Sooners by Rivals.com's Missouri publication, PowerMizzou.com. We thought we would share some of Murdock's insights on the upcoming season as they were given to PowerMizzou.

The quarterbacks, the defense and replacing Adrian Peterson were all subjects discussed by Murdock in this Q&A.

How easily will the Sooners replace Adrian Peterson? Does it help this team that he was out for an extended time last year?

Carey Murdock:
They'll replace him with last year's backup Allen Patrick, who filled in admirably for Peterson during the last half of the 2006 season. They'll also have a talented group of running backs behind Patrick who will all make a play for the starting job.

Demarco Murray, the redshirt freshman from Las Vegas became a sensation this spring when he ran for 103 yards on just four carries in the annual spring Red & White Game. Murray averaged an incredible 11.3 yards per carry in all major spring scrimmages. Patrick actually out-rushed Peterson during the Fiesta Bowl until the overtime period when Peterson took off for a 25-yard touchdown run on the Sooners' first play of the overtime period. But the offensive line will be the true story of the running game as they return six players who had at least one start last season. There's no question Peterson's absence helps this team as they essentially nailed down a Big 12 Championship without Peterson in the backfield.

Is it fair to call the QB position a major question mark? Who steps in for Paul Thompson?

It's always fair to call the QB position a major question mark when there is no returning starter. But the biggest question still remains who the quarterback will be when Oklahoma takes the field against North Texas to start the 2007 season. Joey Halzle is the only quarterback with game experience, but even his game action was miniscule last season. Halzle has the most experience in the OU system, but he has the No. 3 arm in the three-man race.

Sam Bradford is a redshirt freshman with a good arm and decent mobility. He's still a drop-back passer, but he can get out of the pocket and make things happen on the run. Right now he's the likely starter, but he still makes plenty of mistakes.

Keith Nichol has the best potential of all the young quarterbacks on campus. But he's a true freshman who graduated high school early and has only been through 15 practices as a college quarterback. OU's offensive staff gave him a limited playbook last spring and he still has a lot to learn. Nichol is a legitimate dual-threat quarterback as he can tuck the ball and run but he also possesses a cannon for an arm.

Right now I'm sticking with Bradford as the logical choice, but it really could be Halzle taking the first snaps in 2007.

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