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5 Oklahoma
STEWART MANDEL
August 20, 2012
The defense, so brutal at times last year, has the new stamp of an old genius
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August 20, 2012

5 Oklahoma

The defense, so brutal at times last year, has the new stamp of an old genius

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Key Recruit

TREY METOYER Rivals.com's No. 2--rated receiver, who caught six passes for 72 yards in OU's spring game, will see plenty of action after the departure of NCAA career receptions leader Ryan Broyles and the suspensions of three returning wideouts.

Breakout Player

R.J. WASHINGTON The career backup defensive end moves to full-time duty now that standouts Frank Alexander and Ronnell Lewis are gone. Washington looks to build on his performance in the Insight Bowl win over Iowa, in which he had two sacks against first-round draft pick Riley Reiff.

The Skinny

AFTER AN eight-year run as Arizona's head coach, hot-tempered Mike Stoops has returned to Norman. As the original defensive coordinator on brother Bob's staff, Mike helped the Sooners produce four straight top 10 defenses and win the 2000 national title. A year ago Oklahoma entered the season as the nation's top-ranked team only to be done in by a leaky D that was overwhelmed by Texas Tech (572 total yards), Baylor (485 passing yards) and Oklahoma State (495 total yards in a 44--10 loss). Playmaking safety Tony Jefferson still smarts over last season's breakdowns. "You're at Oklahoma," he says. "That's not acceptable." His fiery new coordinator agrees. "I take things very personal," says Stoops, "and hopefully the players will as well."

Final Analysis

THE RETURN of Landry Jones, OU's career passing leader (12,379 yards), puts the Sooners in position to field another explosive offense, but Jones will need to find new receiving targets, since junior Kenny Stills is the only experienced returnee. Senior running back Dominique Whaley, who missed the last five games with a broken left ankle, will take some pressure off Jones, and 6'6", 254-pound backup QB Blake Bell (a.k.a. the Belldozer) gives OU a nearly automatic option in short-yardage situations. If the Sooners' reconfigured secondary shines, they'll play for the Big 12 title when they visit TCU the final week of the season.

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