Who Will Replace Mayfield for 2018 Oklahoma Sooners?
by DS WilliamsonLast season, the Oklahoma Sooners watched as Georgia evaporated a huge lead in the second half of their playoff semi-final clash. The devastating loss ended Oklahoma’s season on a sour note, while also closing the book on the Baker Mayfield era as their Heisman Trophy winning star. The quarterback skipped off to the NFL to become the first overall draft pick for the Cleveland Browns. Will the 2018 Oklahoma Sooners make a return trip to the College Football Playoff in this brave, new, post-Mayfield era? Actually, that's a good place to start.
Can Oklahoma replace Mayfield? The easy answer is, “No.” After all, Baker Mayfield won the Heisman Trophy. He’s irreplaceable. Oklahoma must try, though. Luckily for coach Lincoln Riley, he’s got a couple of real candidates in Mayfield’s backup last season, Kyler Murray, and North Carolinian Austin Kendall.
Despite the experience of Murray, Kendall is likely to be the starter this season. The reason is because the Oakland A’s drafted Murray 9th overall in the MLB draft. Murray has already told Sooner coaches that he’s skipping his final year of eligibility at Oklahoma, the 2019-2020 College Football Season, to prepare for his MLB career.
What’s the point of starting Murray if his minds already on baseball? Starting Kendall might actually be the better move, anyhow. Kendall is taller than Murray, has no distractions, and has a slightly stronger arm.
As always Oklahoma will have a bevy of talent at their skill positions. Wide receiver won’t be an issue. Neither will running back. Oklahoma’s offensive line is loaded. It’s two-deep at every O-line position. Right tackle Bobby Evans will move to left tackle and that's really the only personnel move of note. The offensive line won’t miss a beat, which means the 2018 Oklahoma Sooners offense will score plenty of points even without Baker Mayfield.
Wins were easy to come by for the Sooners as they rocketed out to a 12-2 SU season, but that was offset by a somewhat troubling 8-6 ATS record that left college football betting enthusiasts scrambling. Most of those losses were against double-digit spreads, but Oklahoma also lost straight up to Texas a nine-point favorite.
Oklahoma’s defense still an issue The Sooners’ defense has been the issue for the past few seasons. It projects to be a point of contention this season as well. Oklahoma ranked 87th in passing yards allowed last season. They won't be any better this season. What they have in experience, they lack in true superstars along the defensive line.
Without pressuring opposing quarterbacks, it doesn’t matter if Oklahoma has Deion Sanders at cornerback. In the college game, everything you do on defense starts with stopping running backs and pressuring quarterbacks.
Tough for the Sooners to Return to the College Football Playoff The bottom line with the Sooners is that the only reason they managed to make it to the College Football Playoff last season is because of Baker Mayfield. Mayfield dominated opposing defenses. He covered up many of the defensive issues that Oklahoma still has by building huge leads that most teams couldn't keep up with.
The 2018 Oklahoma Sooners offense will be good - but not great - this season. The defense most likely won’t be good at all. The Sooners have a really tough schedule on top of that. They battle Iowa State, TCU, Texas Tech, and West Virginia on the road.
They also take on Texas in the Red River Shootout. Texas should have the best defense in the Big 12 this season. Even if Oklahoma wins most of their games, getting out of Big 12 play with less than two losses doesn’t seem possible.
Hot take alert - Oklahoma won't come close to making it back to the College Football Playoff.