Football season is almost here for Oklahoma. And SoonersIllustrated.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: Defensive end Charles Tapper. It seems unfathomable to think this time three years ago almost nobody had even heard of the name Tapper.
It seems just as crazy to think four years ago Tapper was convinced his future was going to be in basketball. But as he gets more seasoning at the position, you see just how good he is and can still become.
Tapper is just one of many guys on this OU defense for this season where all you can say is that guy is a freak. He can overpower offensive lineman just as much as he can track down a wide receiver like Amari Cooper in the open field.
There’s nothing that Tapper will do that will surprise anybody because you know he’s pretty much capable of doing anything.
What he’s going to be capable of this season is making good on that promise from last year where he wanted at least 10 sacks. He’ll do that. His technique is only going to be better as well as his understanding of the game and position. It will be a fun fall and winter for Tapper, and that’s a great thing for OU.
Justin Hite: Outside linebacker Eric Striker. The best way to hide an inexperienced secondary is with a stout pass rush. When it comes to Oklahoma, Striker is the pass rusher.
He won’t hit the school record of 14 sacks in a season because he’ll likely catch a double team or at least a chip block from a running back on about every play. He’ll need to draw that kind of focus, and he’ll beat it more often than not. If he doesn’t beat it, someone else – Charles Tapper or Geneo Grissom – will.
Striker has the capability after a First Team All-Big 12 performance, but if he can take on double teams and beat them, then him and his teammates will be free to cause havoc. That will be imperative for the Sooners’ national championship hopes.
There won’t be much that can help Striker this year. The rest of team doesn’t matter. Striker will be on an island much of season, leaving him alone in the pursuit of the quarterback.
A great pass rush is a necessity for a national championship, whether its sacks, knockdowns or hurries. Striker can make any opponent one dimensional.
That’s a fact that could be incredibly helpful against the pass-happy Red Raiders in Lubbock, where the Sooners have won only once since 2003.
Stiker has the greatest ability to singly affect any game in which he plays.
He is a game-changer of the highest stature. He will make all the difference this year.
He must make all the difference this year.