Archive for the ‘jermaine gresham’ Category

Sooners’ Title Hopes Gone Without Gresham

September 8, 2009

Even the most optimistic Oklahoma fans should start coming to grips with the reality that if the opening loss to BYU didn’t kill the Sooners’ hopes for a national championship, today’s news that superstar senior tight end Jermaine Gresham won’t play a down this season did.

OU’s lack of credible receiving threats became painfully obvious during the BYU game, as the Sooner wideouts struggled to get open, as well as to hold on to the ball when they did. Gresham, an ultra-talented wide receiver in a tight end’s body, would have injected a needed dose of explosiveness into the offense and provided a go-to target in crucial situations.
Gresham is just one player, but it’s not an overreaction to say he was vital to the OU passing game. His loss alone is going to cost Oklahoma at least one more game before the season ends.
(And that’s all before factoring in that the Sooners’ Heisman-winning quarterback will be sidelined for two or three more games.)
Not to be a downer, but there is no silver lining to this cloud. Youngsters will see more playing time, but that offers little solace for a team and fan base ready to win now.
Of course, the season is just a game old. Bob Stoops’ teams typically improve as the regular season goes on, and the OU coach and his staff have excelled in the past when forced to adjust on the fly. Don’t forget this is the same coach who won a Big 12 championship in 2006 after kicking his blue-chip quarterback off the team the day before the season started and losing one of the most dynamic running backs in college football history halfway through the year.

2009 Oklahoma Season Preview: Receivers

August 2, 2009

The Sooners face a challenge at receiver not unlike the situation along the offensive line. With Juaquin Iglesias, Manuel Johnson and Quentin Chaney off to pursue their destinies, OU has to replace three major contributors from 2008. That’s nearly half of its catches from last season.

TE Jermaine Gresham returns after turning down a likely first round spot in the NFL draft, softening the blow a bit. Gresham hauled in 66 catches for 950 yards last year. That translates into 14.4 yards per reception–not bad for a tight end. It’s not a stretch to think Gresham could play the feature role in the passing game. Think Kellen Winslow soldiering up at The U.

At wideout, sophomore Ryan Broyles started the season off last year with a bang against Cincinnati with seven catches for 140 yards and a touchdown. He didn’t match that level of production in any one game again, but he continued to provide big plays all year, averaging 15 yards per catch. Broyles has good speed to go along with shiftiness, making him a dangerous threat in the open field and catching the ball on the run. He goes after the ball aggressively in the air, too, so the transition to the outside receiving spot shouldn’t be too tough.

Hard luck case Adron Tennell has impressed the OU coaches since he first set foot on campus in 2006. Since then, of course, he hasn’t been able to stay healthy for an entire season. It’s tough to imagine that the compilation of injuries hasn’t robbed him of some of his athleticism. Tennell reportedly had another outstanding offseason and managed to stay injury free. If he’s healthy for an entire year, Tennell could be in for a big year. Based on his history, that’s a tall order.
One of the major wild cards in the mix for the Sooners this year is juco transfer Cameron Kenney. A high school soccer star, Kenney only played one year of varsity football. In two seasons at Garden City (Kan.) Community College, the all-purpose specialist proved himself to be a monster as a receiver and kick returner, while handling kicking and punting duties as well. Kenney’s teammates have raved about his potential lately, and don’t be shocked if he gets reps from the jump. He may even compete for the punter job.
Junior Mossis Madu made the move from running back to slot receiver in the fall in an effort to get the electric playmaker on the field more often. With a numbers crunch in the backfield, putting Madu in the slot gives offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson yet another weapon at his disposal. Whether or not he has the hands to make it work has yet to be seen. Madu may not be long for the receiving corps, though, if injuries start to take their toll on DeMarco Murray and Chris Brown.
H-back/tight end Brody Eldridge is a punishing blocker who provides a nice safety outlet for Sam Bradford, but he’s not going to be much of a threat in the passing game. Sophomore Dejuan Miller is a tall target who could be a threat in the red zone and other jump ball situations. Miller’s classmate Jameel Owens also will compete for time and could work his way onto the field more often as the season progresses.
While OU’s personnel losses at receiver mirror the situation at offensive line, the silver lining for the unit is there as well. Although the new guys may be unproven, the talent is there for this to be a particularly strong group.