Football season is almost here for Oklahoma. And SoonersIlustrated.com is eager to get you ready for what could be a memorable 2014 season.
During the next two weeks, Bob Przybylo and Justin Hite are going to reveal their top 11 players on offense and defense and how those players will impact what happens on the field this fall. Let the countdown and debates begin.
Bob Przybylo: Center Ty Darlington. Throughout most of the countdown, the focus has been on returning players who are ready to improve on already proven pedigrees.
Then there’s the story of Darlington. Despite an incredibly limited time of in-game action last season, Darlington was not able to get a redshirt and enters his junior season as the heir apparent to Gabe Ikard at center.
It’s never easy trying to replace someone who was so stable in every way possible as Ikard, and that’s why Darlington is so high in this list. A dropoff at center cannot happen for OU. Even if the other offensive linemen handle their business, Darlington has to be the leader of the line.
It’s the center’s job to have command of the offense, to understand all the protection packages and everything that’s gets thrown their way. We all know Darlington is intelligent, his 4.0 GPA throughout school shows that. But he’ll need to show he’s football smart this fall.
One thing that should help Darlington is his buddy-buddy relationship with quarterback Trevor Knight. The two arrived together for the 2012 class and have been roommates and have developed a deep bond through their Christian faith and Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
They’ll need that same bond with each other on the gridiron.
Justin Hite: Quarterback Trevor Knight. All eyes will be on Knight this season after picking apart Alabama in the Sugar Bowl last season.
All the expectations will come with those eyes.
He will fall short.
But that doesn’t mean he’ll have a bad season. In the end, he might only duplicate his Sugar-Bowl dominance four more times during his career. Every game this season will not be a replica of that game.
Knight will struggle. He might even have a game with more interceptions than touchdowns.
For all the bashing, the Sooners’ offense will only be as good as Knight this season. He’ll be good enough to lead Oklahoma to the four-team playoff. From there, anything can happen.
He will be front and center and prove that the Sugar Bowl wasn’t an accident.
His best complete season will be ahead of him, but this year, he has to show consistency in order for Oklahoma to accomplish his goals.
The most pressure this season of any player will be on Knight, but that’s not out of the ordinary for a quarterback at one of the top five schools in the country.
If Knight falters, the Sooners will struggle – relatively speaking. A nine-win season would still be possible, but Oklahoma is hoping for more. It only achieves that if Knight shines.