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College Sports: Why the Oklahoma Sooners could be better in 2019

By all accounts, Oklahoma had a successful campaign in 2018. The Sooners won a fourth straight Big 12 Championship, a second straight Heisman Trophy and earned their third CFP berth in four seasons.

Replacing Baker Mayfield ended up not being the chore many thought it would be, as Kyler Murray was as good — if not better — in his lone season as starter. 

Oklahoma’s defense got worse, but Murray’s heroics still led the way to a 12-2 season. But with Murray likely headed to play baseball or the NFL, how could the Sooners be better in 2019?

Here are a few reasons why:

Improved defense

No, really this time. Oklahoma’s defense should be better in 2019 under the direction of a new coordinator. The Sooners have put together their third straight top 10 recruiting class, which means they are starting to build depth and cover up the holes left by earlier cycles. 

But more importantly, Oklahoma is expected to hire a quality defensive coordinator to replace Mike Stoops and interim Ruffin McNeill. The new DC would theoretically make adjustments like moving Brendan Radley-Hiles back to cornerback and making sure schematic alignments like this don’t happen again.

Receivers, receivers and more receivers

On the offensive side of the ball, Oklahoma will be loaded in 2019. Even with Marquise Brown headed to the NFL, the Sooners will have the best receiving corps in the Big 12. CeeDee Lamb, Lee Morris and Grant Calcaterra are all back. Charleston Rambo looked like an adequate replacement for Brown in the Orange Bowl. 

Not to mention, the Sooners are adding (at least) three bluechip receivers in the 2019 class: Theo Wease, Trejan Bridges and tight end Austin Stogner. Oklahoma is also in the mix for 5-star receiver Jadon Haselwood, who will make his announcement on Saturday at the All American Bowl. 

Lincoln Riley’s quarterback is going to be good

The Sooners are fresh off having a pair of generational talents at quarterback in Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray. Barring a transfer from Justin Fields, that seems unlikely to be the case in 2019. But regardless of who is under center, the Sooners will be fine. 

Junior Austin Kendall has had multiple years in the system and has looked good throwing the ball in garbage time. Freshman Tanner Mordecai isn’t as experienced, but could also compete for the job. 5-star signee Spencer Rattler is the highest-rated quarterback Riley has signed to date at Oklahoma, and could also see the field if he picks the offense up quickly (he won’t arrive until the summer).

Oklahoma’s skill positions weapons — the aforementioned star receivers, plus returning rushers Kennedy Brooks and Trey Sermon — and a raw-but-talented offensive line should give the Sooners’ new QB a good starting point. 

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