August 22, 2011

Fearless 20 Predictions: Jefferson Set to Star

As we now approach the start of Oklahoma's 2011 college football season it's time to dive into your annual '20 fearless'.'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 this season. And as excitement mounts about a potential national championship run we have predictions ranging from those national championship hopes to Heisman trophy winners, and even Sooners setting national records, want to know how this season is going to play out? Find out here!

20. Landry Jones will break Sam Bradford's career yardage record early against FSU
Analysis: I'm going to go ahead and call it on the ninth pass of the game Oklahoma will have a new king of passing yardage. It's a remarkable feat considering the majority of Jones' best years as a Sooner will be in front of him. Now I'll add something on to this pick and after last year's near perfect 3:1 TD:INT ratio pick, listen well - Jones will almost hit 4:1 this year, but not quite…I'm going with something like 42:11.

19. Ryan Broyles won't quite make it to 400 career catches but will set an NCAA record.

Analysis: With just three more catches than he pulled off last season Ryan Broyles would reach an almost unthinkable mark of 400 career catches, the scary thing is with just over a third of last year's total he'll set the NCAA record for career receptions. I expect Broyles to share more plays with a talented, and more experienced, crew of receivers and as such he'll probably be in the 100-115 catch range that will see him end his career roughly 50-catches ahead of current NCAA record holder Taylor Stubblefield of Purdue.

18. Brandon Williams will lead the team in carries in the Cotton Bowl.
Analysis: I realize what a comparison this starts to create (for those who don't remember, think Red River Shootout 2004) but I just think as time wears on it's going to be near impossible to hold this kid off. So many of the things that made the afore alluded-to superstar so special are part of what will see Williams find stardom - hard work, great natural talent, and more maturity than most in his shoes. Williams brings a different style to the backfield and figures to play a big role for the Sooners through the season and it may be in Dallas that he begins to find his feet, much as it was for Adrian Peterson.

17. James Hanna will win all-conference awards and set himself up as a early to mid NFL draft pick.

Analysis: A year ago I was officially off the Hanna bandwagon convinced that for whatever reason it just wasn't going to come together for him but the way he closed the 2010 season it's hard not to wonder whye might be able to do with a full season now that the light has come on. Now, the question is - was the three-game run last year an abberation or a sign of things to come? I'm betting on the latter.

16. Defensive Tackle will be a surprise
Analysis: I've always been big on the reality that all of Oklahoma's great defenses were born in the middle of the line of scrimmage and even in this day and age of high-powered passing offenses if you can make an offense one-dimensional your chances of winning rise dramatically. I think Stacy McGee and Jamarkus McFarland are ready to become real players and though individually they may not a dominant force like some of the groups that did lead great Bob Stoops defenses together they stand a chance to be an impressive starting line-up.

15. Demontre Hurst and Aaron Colvin will combine for Double Digit INTs
Analysis: I think it's been well documented what a fan I've been of Hurst and I think when you look at his numbers last year you see that coaches and quarterbacks shied away from him. This year they may elect to go away from Jamell Fleming and with his impressive ball skills Hurst can make them pay for their change of heart. When you add in what an impressive center fielder Colvin has the ability to be and you're talking about a potentially deadly duo for quarterbacks this season. Their numbers early figure to be aided by many being unaware of him.

14. No back will have a thousand yards though three will go over 450-yards.
Analysis: I put these together in early August but the more I read of the practice reports the more I feel comfortable about things. It seems like so many guys have different skillsets and bring so many different things to the table that it's hard to pick any singular guy to emerge from the pack. I guess if you made me pick the three that I think will eclipse 450-yards I'd go with Brandon Williams, Roy Finch, and Brennan Clay, and honestly I think that may be the way they stack up when total rushing yardage is compiled at the end of the year.

13. Expect an incredible Dogfight in Tallahassee.

Analysis: I think to people outside of the crimson and cream faithful this may seem obvious but I've seen too many Sooner fans are going on at length about what happened in Norman last fall. I'm not saying last year's game doesn't factor into things but I'm not just assuming Oklahoma as a shoe-in on the road at any quality program, much less Florida State. The Sooners late season run has caused some to forget how poor they were in Columbia and College Station, more needs to be proven before I'm buying any sort of comfort level in this one.

12. Javon Harris and Colvin will be OU's best safety Combo Since 2004
Analysis: I've long been a big fan of Harris, but admit that Colvin's rise to prominence was not something I saw coming based on what I saw of him in high school. Now obviously the move of Tony Jefferson to 'deep safety', or at least the lengthy look he is getting so far this summer could put this into jeopardy but honestly I don't think Jefferson eclipsing one of these two would do anything to change my stance. I'm fully on record that I expect Oklahoma's secondary to be very, very good under Willie Martinez this year.

11. Kenny Stills will end the season in OU's career top 10 of catches, yardage, and touchdowns.
Analysis: To hit these marks he'll need 62-catches for 843-yards and nine touchdowns. Honestly as I typed that out it was closer than I expected it to be and a sign that by the time he is done Stills may very well stand to push some of Ryan Broyles' records before things are all said and done. Stills continues to mature as a player and has accepted the challenge of facing constant one-on-one coverage and the reality he'll be a big part of opening things up for Broyles and Landry Jones.

10. Tony Jefferson will finish the season as a first-team all-conference defender.
Analysis: I made the prediction prior to the talk of Jefferson being moved to safety but I still stand behind it, he is one of those players that Sooner fans will be talking about long after he is gone and I think that his freshman year is just a flash in the pan to what he is capable of. Since seeing his video as a junior I've been a huge believer and this is the year he begins to make good on all that promise.

9. The starting defensive ends won't eclipse 15 sacks.
Analysis: I admit I've always felt that Frank Alexander has considerable talent but so far have never seen the playmaking and production to match it. Now perhaps this is the year it all comes together for him but I think you all know by now I'm a believer in what I can see and prove rather than believe the 'best case' scenario is simply just going to play out. Whether it's Ronnell Lewis, Geneo Grissom, David King, or even R.J. Washington I think defensive end play will be solid but I don't see a bunch of playmaking on the perimeter.

8 Oklahoma won't make a field goal over 44-yards this season.
Analysis: I fully expect Jimmy Stevens to have another solid year and sure he might miss a few you all would like him to hit or even yank an extra point or two but for the most part the guy has become a lot closer to automatic from 40-yards in than most want to give him credit for. Now it's going to fall into question when things go beyond the 40-yard range and frankly when you're playing at the level of stakes that Oklahoma hopes to this year you can't help but wonder if a kick like that could be the difference.

7. I'll take OU by two-touchdowns-plus over A&M.
Analysis: Through the years I've picked Oklahoma and A&M and without sounding overly egotistical have had a pretty good track record with in these selections. The secret to my success? 'Where is the game being played'. As good as the Aggies can be, they struggle in Norman and in turn as bad as the Aggies have been at times they've given the Sooners fits in College Station. This year the game is in Norman and after last year's lackluster effort and performance I'm betting the Sooners put on a show to be remembered.

6. Jamell Fleming still won't get his due - failing to make Thorpe semi-finalist.
Analysis: I've ceased in trying to understand why the country isn't paying attention to just how good this guy really is, and though I admit to leaning a bit toward Demontre Hurst, there is no denying his production, numbers, and talent make him one of the country's elite corners. And yes, that means I think Oklahoma has the best tandem of corners anywhere in the country. Fleming's brand of physical play and ability to shut down his area of the field make him a very legitimate Thorpe contender, though as the prediction notes…he won't receiver he due.

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