CFT Preseason Top 25: No. 5 Oklahoma

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2013 record: 11-2 overall, 7-2 in Big 12 Conference (tied 2nd in conference)
2013 postseason: Sugar Bowl vs. Alabama (45-31 win)
2013 final AP/coaches’ ranking: No. 6/No. 6
Head coach: Bob Stoops (160-39 overall; 160-39 in 15 years at Oklahoma)
Co-offensive coordinators: Josh Heupel (9th year at Oklahoma) and Jay Norvell (6th year)
2013 offensive rankings: 18th rushing offense (223.9 ypg); 90th passing offense (199.1 ypg); 52nd total offense (423 ypg); 40th scoring offense (32.8 ppg)
Returning offensive starters: five
Defensive coordinator: Mike Stoops (eight years at Oklahoma)
2013 defensive rankings: 25th rushing defense (137.6 ypg); 30th passing defense (212.5 ypg);  20th total defense (350.2 ypg); 22nd scoring defense (22.1 ppg)
Returning defensive starters: nine
Location: Norman, Oklahoma
Stadium: Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium (82,112; grass)
Last conference title: 2012 (co-champions with Kansas State)

THE GOOD
The Sooners lay claim to the best defense in the Big 12 conference. The unit finished 20th overall in total defense last season, which is an impressive feat considering the wide-open offenses seen during conference play. The defense is led by outside linebacker Eric Striker. Striker is one of the most intimidating defenders in the country. Not only is the linebacker one of the most explosive edge rushers in college football, but the Sooners move him around throughout the game to keep offenses on their heels. It’s nearly impossible for an offense to key on a specific defender and set their blocking schemes if they don’t know where he’s going to be lined up on a down-by-down basis. The team’s linebackers as a whole are very talented. Leading tackler Frank Shannon won’t play this season due to suspension, but senior Geneo Grissom showed how dangerous he can be opposite Striker with 2.5 sacks against Alabama in the Sugar Bowl. And inside linebacker Dominique Alexander was named the 2013 Big 12 Defensive Freshman of the Year. Both starting cornerbacks return as does strong safety Quentin Hayes. The defense will also get a boost when the massive (6-6, 334) Jordan Phillips returns to the lineup as the starting nose tackle after missing the final 10 weeks of the season due to a back injury. The Sooners defense is talented, aggressive and experienced. Even if Oklahoma’s offense struggles during stretches, the defense is good enough to win games for them this season.

THE BAD
If the Sooners are going to be earn a spot in the first College Football Playoff, the team absolutely has to be more consistent at the quarterback position. Expectations are sky high for Trevor Knight (see: below) after his surprising and dominant performance against the Alabama Crimson Tide in the Sugar Bowl. Knight has to prove it wasn’t an one-game aberration. The most damning evidence against Oklahoma’s quarterbacks last year was finishing ninth (out of 10 teams) in the Big 12 in passing offense. The ability to stretch the field vertically opens up the rest of the offense, but Oklahoma was never able to do so last year until the bowl game. And for a quarterback to be able to open up the offense, he has to have reliable receivers. Junior wide receiver Sterling Shephard will have to develop into a No. 1 target after finishing second on the team last season with 51 receptions for 603 yards. The Sooners’ other projected starters at wide receiver, Durron Neal and Derrick Woods, combined to make 15 receptions for 205 yards. Consistency at quarterback and wide receiver will be the primary indicator of how successful the Sooners are in 2014.

THE UNKNOWN
The University of Oklahoma suspended two of the team’s most talented players in Shannon and running back Joe Mixon prior to the start of the season for the entirety of 2014 campaign. Plus, the team hoped Missouri transfer Dorial Green-Beckham would be eligible to play this season. The NCAA denied Green-Beckam’s transfer waiver, and the wide receiver will have to wait until next year to make a mark with the Sooners…if he does at all. These are three very talented players that would have contributed plenty to the Sooners this season. Shannon was the team’s leading tackler in 2013. Sophomore Jordan Evans, who played in eight games last season as a true freshman, will take over for Shannon. The Sooners’ passing game will have to rely heavily on Shepard due to the lack of experience with the rest of the team’s wide receivers. Keith Ford and Alex Ross will split reps without the explosive Mixon being a part of the running back stable. Of the three, the junior linebacker’s suspension could prove to be the most problematic this season, while the team will simply have to wait another year to receive contributions from Mixon and Green-Beckham.

MAKE-OR-BREAK GAME: vs. Tennessee
The scheduling within the Big 12 Conference is so underwhelming an one-loss Sooners’ squad might be the team on the outside looking in during the inaugural College Football Player. It’s quite possible Oklahoma will slip up at least once during Big 12 play. The reason the Tennessee game is so important is due to it being the team’s only non-conference game against a Power Five opponent. The Volunteers may have been 5-7 last season, but their affiliation with the SEC holds plenty of water. The game will be a test to see how Oklahoma stacks up against the best conference in college football. A resounding victory by Oklahoma will show the Sooners are superior to the SEC’s middle class. And it will leave a positive impression in the playoff committee’s collective mind as the Sooners attempt to navigate their treacherous conference schedule.

HEISMAN HOPEFUL: QB Trevor Knight
Knight made it look easy against the Alabama Crimson Tide in the Sugar Bowl. The ball effortlessly flew out of the quarterback’s hand as he broke a Sugar Bowl record with 32 completions for 348 yards and four touchdowns. Knight’s performance in the bowl game leaves a lasting impression on Heisman voters and provides momentum as he enters his first season as a full-time starter. The reality, though, is Knight didn’t play well during the regular season. Knight won the starting job in fall camp last year only to hand the spot back to Blake Bell. Knight’s highest output in a single game before his explosion against Alabama was 171 passing yards. In fact, Knight only passed for 471 yards and five touchdowns during his previous eight appearances. But Knight’s Heisman candidacy is based purely on potential. If Knight can play at the same level seen against Alabama throughout the 2014 campaign, the Sooners will be one of the best teams in college football and the quarterback will be sitting in New York City waiting to hear his name called as the latest Heisman Trophy winner.

(Click HERE for the CFT 2014 Preseason Preview Repository)

Ex-Tennessee QB who transferred to Houston now moving to CMU

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Over the weekend, Central Michigan landed a new head football coach.  A couple of days later, they landed a potential starting quarterback as well.

In somewhat of a surprising move, Quinten Dormady announced on Twitter Tuesday morning that he has decided to transfer from Houston.  Not only that, but Dormady confirmed that he will be continuing his collegiate playing career for McElwain at CMU.

The move comes a little over six months after UH confirmed that the quarterback had transferred in from Tennessee.

Because Dormady didn’t play in more than four games this past season for the Cougars, he can take advantage of the NCAA’s new redshirt rule and save a year of eligibility.  He’ll also be eligible to play immediately for the Chips in 2019 as a graduate transfer.

In his one and only season with the Cougars, Dormady completed two of his five passes for eight yards.  With star quarterback D’Eriq King set to return for one more season, there was little chance of Dormady seeing meaningful playing time in what will be his final year of collegiate eligibility.

Dormady was the Vols’ starter to open what turned out to be Butch Jones‘ final season in Knoxville.  In starting the first five games of 2017, Dormady had accounted for eight turnovers, six of which were the result of interceptions. Five of those picks came in losses to Florida (three) and Georgia (two).

Coming off a bye, redshirt freshman Jarrett Guarantano started the Week 7 loss to South Carolina after Dormady was benched following the loss to UGA.  Prior to the Week 9 road trip to Kentucky, it was reported that Dormady would be sidelined the remainder of the year because of a shoulder injury.

Dormady, who grew up near San Antonio, completed 76-of-137 passes (55.5%) for 925 yards, six touchdowns and the six interceptions this past season.  The 6-4, 222-pounder finished the Vols portion of his playing career with 1,282 yards, seven touchdown and six picks.  He also ran the ball 22 times for a total of 21 yards.

Report: Nick Saban to stay in-house, promote Dan Enos to OC

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And for his fifth offensive coordinator since the beginning of the 2016 season, it appears Nick Saban will stay in-house.

Exactly one week ago, Maryland announced that Alabama offensive coordinator Mike Locksley had been named as the Terrapins’ next head football coach.  While Locksley will remain with the Crimson Tide through the playoffs, Saban has apparently gone about the business of replacing him as FootballScoop.com is reporting that Dan Enos will be the team’s coordinator moving forward.

Enos spent the 2018 season, his first in Tuscaloosa, as the Tide’s quarterbacks coach.  He also carries the title of associate head coach.

Enos, who was a candidate for the Kansas job that ultimately went to Les Miles, was the head coach at Central Michigan for five seasons (2010-14).  After posting a 26-36 record with the Chippewas, which included a 7-6 mark in 2015, Enos abruptly left the MAC school to take the offensive coordinator job at Arkansas in January of 2015.  With Bret Bielema fired shortly after the end of the 2017 season, the 50-year-old Enos took a job on Jim Harbaugh‘s coaching staff in early January of this year… only to leave less than three weeks later for Alabama.

The coordinator job at Arkansas was Enos’ first at the FBS level.  And, as previously noted, Enos would be Saban’s fifth coordinator in less than three full seasons.

One week before the national championship game for the 2016 season, and after he was initially expected to remain in his job through the playoffs, it was announced that Lane Kiffin would be leaving Alabama for the head-coaching job at Florida Atlantic, effective immediately.  Kiffin was replaced by Steve Sarkisian, who called plays in the title game but then left a month later for a job in the NFL.  Brian Daboll replaced Sarkisian and lasted one season coordinating the Tide’s offense before he too left for the NFL.  Daboll remained with the Tide through their playoff run last season.

Tim Brown’s 1987 Heisman fetches record price at auction

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Tim Brown has registered another entry on his record-setting résumé, albeit indirectly.

Last month, it was reported that Brown’s 1987 Heisman Trophy, which he sold to a private collector a year ago, would be going up for auction.  After online bidding began on Nov. 19 and closed Dec. 5, Sports Collectors Daily has reported that the stiff-armed trophy won by the former Notre Dame wide receiver sold for $435,763 over the weekend.

It’s believed it’s the highest amount ever paid for a Heisman.

“We believe this is one of the most significant trophies to ever be offered at auction and collectors agreed as the bidding was fierce,” said Ken Goldin, founder of Goldin Auctions. “It’s rare when a Heisman becomes available and even more unusual for it to be from an NFL Hall of Famer who played at the most storied college football program.”

Earlier this year, the Heisman Trophy of the late Colorado running back Rashaan Salaam sold for nearly $400,000, a record number for such an award at the time.

The family of Yale running back Clint Frank sold his 1937 trophy in October of this year for $317,000.  O.J. Simpson’s 1968 Trophy sold for $255,000 in 1999, while another former USC running back, Charles White, sold his Heisman for $184,000 in 2000.

Beginning in 1999, winners of the Heisman Trophy have been barred from selling their trophies by the trust that oversees the honor.

Report: Butch Jones leaving Alabama for job at Maryland

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College Park is taking on a decidedly Tuscaloosa feel to it.

Earlier this month, Maryland confirmed that it had hired Alabama offensive coordinator Mike Locksley as its next head football coach.  Citing multiple sources with knowledge of the situation, 247Sports.com is now reporting that Butch Jones is leaving Nick Saban‘s program for a spot on Locksley’s Terrapins coaching staff.

Jones, who met with Locksley earlier this month before agreeing to take the job, is expected to serve as the Terps’ tight ends coach.  He’ll also carry the title of associate head coach for the Big Ten program.

In March of this year, Saban added Jones to his Alabama football staff as an offensive analyst.  Jones, of course, was the head coach at rival Tennessee for nearly five seasons before he was summarily dismissed in mid-November of last year.

Jones last served as a tight ends coach in 1998 at Central Michigan; he was last a position coach at West Virginia (2005-06).

Per the terms of his UT contract, Jones will be paid just north of $8 million in the form of a buyout, minus whatever he was to make at future jobs through February of 2021.  He made $35,000 as an analyst at Alabama this year.