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

Oklahoma is coming off a 12-2 campaign which ended with a fourth straight Big 12 Championship and a second consecutive defeat in the College Football Playoff.

There are a number of reasons why the Sooners could be worse in 2019, but here are the top 3:

Note: For a more optimistic viewpoint, read part one of this series: Why the Oklahoma Sooners could be better in 2019.

No more Hollywood

Oklahoma won’t be lacking in receivers for 2019, but it might still miss the speedy Marquise Brown, who is headed for the NFL. The Sooners signed three 5-star receivers in this recruiting class, but it’s too early to tell if any of them have the top-end speed that unlocks Oklahoma’s deep passing game.

The Sooners have had a speedy weapon in each of the last four seasons. First it was Dede Westbrook and then Brown in 2017 and 2018. Those two combined for 4,680 yards and 38 touchdowns across four campaigns. Charleston Rambo will have a chance to prove he can be that guy for Lincoln Riley. If he can’t, Oklahoma’s offense could struggle to take the top off of elite defenses.

Transition year for defense

Oklahoma brought in Alex Grinch to re-shape its defense, but how long will that process take? It’s hard to imagine the Sooners being worse in 2019 than they were in 2018, but Oklahoma’s defense could struggle through the growing pains that come with a major transition like this.

Grinch will bring a different philosophy, new terminology and fresh ideas about how to use Oklahoma’s personnel. So while things should be improved from a disastrous 2018, Oklahoma’s defense still has a long way to go.

*Probably* will be without Kyler Murray

Despite Gil Brandt’s tweets, it’s unlikely Kyler Murray will be back at Oklahoma in 2019. A return to Norman might make more sense than you think, but it’s not something the Sooners can count on at this point.

So assuming Murray isn’t back next season, the Sooners will have to replace a Heisman Trophy winning quarterback for the second season in a row. If anyone can do it, it’s Lincoln Riley, as he just proved. But with true freshman 5-star Spencer Rattler not arriving until the summer, it seems the battle would be between junior Austin Kendall and redshirt freshman Tanner Mordecai. Neither Kendall nor Mordecai appear to be generational talents like Murray and Baker Mayfield, so a steep drop off in quarterback production should be expected.

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