As we now approach the start of Oklahoma's 2012 college football season it's time to continue rolling with your annual '20 fearless'. ForSoonerScoop.com's new members the '20 Fearless' is a scary look inside Associate Editor Josh McCuistion's mind mixed with a few opinions on just what might take place in the upcoming season. And as excitement was mounting about a potential national championship run Sooner fans have been battered with some tough news the last few weeks - is there reason to lose hope? We have predictions ranging from those national championship hopes to Heisman trophy winners, and even young Sooners set to do big things, want to know how this season is going to play out? Find out here!
20. Sterling Shepard will lead Oklahoma in receptions. Analysis: Some may remember that he was the guy I voted 'most likely to succeed' back on National Signing Day. However his early notoriety has surprised even me. From everything coming in Shepard's projected early impact isn't just about lack of depth, he really is just a special talent. Add in his similarities to Ryan Broyles and just how much his current quarterback loved Broyles - a recipe for a winner here.
19. Oklahoma won't have a 1,000 yard rusher or receiver.
Analysis: It seems funny to say that after singing Shepard's praises but I just think that there isn't a bonafide No. 1 receiver and a lot of quality guys who will be vying for that spot. I think Oklahoma will mix up what it does a lot and you'll see a lot of receptions being spread around. In the backfield, there are three backs fully capable of those kind of numbers, but think each might not hit the mark for a variety of reasons.
18. R.J. Washington and David King will not eclipse 14 sacks. Analysis: Last year I picked Frank Alexander and Ronnell Lewis to not hit 15 and in spite of both having very strong years, ended up being right. I don't feel as though the combo of Washington and King is as special in the pass rush game as their two predecessors. I do think both can, and will, be very solid this season but I think Oklahoma is going to have to be more creative in the way that it creates pressure this year rather than just having a lot of pressure from it's two starters. But perhaps one of the young defensive ends like Chuka Ndulue, and/or Charles Tapper and Mike Onuoha can surprise everyone?
17. Tony Jefferson will be Oklahoma's first All-American defender since 2009. Analysis: It's impossible to ignore what Mike Stoops has done with truly special talents at the safety position and Jefferson could be the best he has worked with since the great Roy Williams. Obviously there is a long way to go, but that's the kind of talent Jefferson possesses. Let's see what plays out but I really think this is a year where Jefferson goes from promise and some production to loads of production. Look for Jefferson to be dynamic in the run game and through the year last season his pass defense also grew tremendously.
16. Aaron Colvin will lead Big 12 cornerbacks in interceptions. Analysis: OK, so maybe this has a little to do with my never-ending appreciation for Colvin's skillset but I also think he is a natural fit for what Oklahoma likes to do defensively and he is more than willing to be aggressive. I also think the presence of Demontre Hurst will play a huge role in more and more passes heading in Colvin's direction than at perhaps the Big 12's top cornerback. I just see this secondary making a lot more plays this year and Colvin could be a big part of that.
15. Landry Jones will finish slightly better than 3:1 in touchdown:interception ratio Analysis: The last few years I've had pretty good luck on this TD:INT prediction for Jones. I think it's something that may start a little slow and then his numbers will look better as the year wears on. That seems to be counter intuitive with his schedule growing considerably more serious but as Jones gets more and more comfortable with receivers like Trey Metoyer, Sterling Shepard, and possibly (pending NCAA ruling) even Fresno State transfer Jalen Saunders.
14. Daryl Williams and Adam Shead will begin to set up as OU's next great offensive line duo. Analysis: You look at Oklahoma's best offensive lines through the years there was almost unanimously a duo of top quality players. In the early 2000s the duo of Jammal Brown and Davin Joseph set up lengthy NFL careers in Norman and a few years later Phil Loadholt and Trent Williams did the same. Shead and Williams are guys of similar talent, but a lot is left to be proven if they can be those guys - but I'm betting they can, and will.
13. By the Texas game, Jordan Phillips will be a key part of OU's DT rotationAnalysis: I've picked similar things in years past of Gerald McCoy and while he proved me right I admit I'm more unsure about Phillips who is a similarly gifted player but probably had farther to go from high school to college-ready. That being said, guys with his frame and talent level are hard to find and we all remember Bob Stoops telling our guy Carey that Phillips is the type of defensive tackle that they are always looking for.
12. By year's end, Oklahoma's secondary will be considered one of the best in the country.Analysis: Last year I really thought that the secondary would come along under the eye of Willie Martinez, boy how wrong I was. Martinez's players showed promise at corner but, for whatever reason, safety play was seemingly one mistake after another. There is a track record to say that the same won't continue under Mike Stoops and with three guys that I'm confident will have healthy NFL careers in Demontre Hurst, Tony Jefferson, and Aaron Colvin you're talking about a group that has the talent, and I'm guessing they gel by the end of the year.
11. OU will win the games it shouldAnalysis: To many who don't spend year in and year out analyzing Oklahoma's every move this will seem about as brave as staring down a puppy. However, for those of you who do take it all in this isn't a small thing. Look through the years, largely since Mike Stoops departed, and almost every year you'll see a loss that is hard to rationalize. I don't know that Oklahoma will go undefeated but if they do fall, it'll be to a worthy opponent.