I’ll take Dasan McCullough as the Sooners’ Defensive Newcomer of the Year. He’ll start with a bang
This being Oklahoma and college football being our obsession, we could devote a novel to OU’s season opener against Arkansas State. Let’s ease into things, shall we? It’s a loooong season.
Here’s my idea for how to see the game until the 11 a.m. kickoff, when we’ll have a better read on both teams…
One player, one problem, one preposterous prognostication and one pick for OU-Arky State:
One player: OU linebacker Dasan McCullough
The other night I hung out with Toby, a buddy who is a level-one Indiana Hoosiers fan. He’s watched a lot more of McCullough than any of us have, and he raves about the kid. I trust Toby as much as any of the Sooner coaches and players who have hyped McCullough since his arrival last winter.
I trust him so much that I think I’ll follow McCullough closer than any OU defender in Saturday’s opener.
Wake Forest transfer Rondell Bothroyd is expected to reinforce an OU defensive line that couldn’t stop the run all last season and couldn’t get to the quarterback often enough.
Five-star safety Peyton Bowen is expected to immediately clean up some of the messes made in OU’s secondary a year ago.
Heading into Week 1, however, I’ll take McCullough as the Sooners’ Defensive Newcomer of the Year. I anticipate he’ll start it with a bang against Arky State… or else some coaches, players and a good friend who knows his football have some explaining to do.
One problem: Nick Saban can’t reform everyone.
Here’s how it typically works: A college coach loses his way at a high-profiled job, he joins Saban’s Amazon warehouse-sized staff at Alabama, then he takes another head coaching or coordinator job to show the world he still knows what he’s doing.
Such was the plan for Butch Jones when Tennessee fired him during the 2017 season. Saban brought him aboard four months later and he analyzed, consulted or whatever for the Crimson Tide until Arkansas State hired him in December of 2020.
Jones went 2-10 in his debut Red Wolves season of ‘21, losing his only Power 5 game at Washington 52-3. He went 3-9 last season, losing his only Power 5 game at Ohio State 45-12.
This year Arkansas State is picked to finish sixth in the seven-team Sun Belt Conference West Division. The Red Wolves have one player on the Sun Belt’s preseason first or second teams – kicker Dominic Zvada.
Don’t expect much of a test for the Sooners Saturday.
One preposterous prediction: Blake Smith scores OU’s first TD
Oklahoma Sooners tight end Blake Smith (BRYAN TERRY/THE OKLAHOMAN / USA TODAY NETWORK)
Name a transfer receiver most likely to find the end zone against Arkansas State and he’s likely going to be Andrel Anthony, the former Michigan Wolverine who has been publicized since his arrival last January. We didn’t hear quite as much when Smith arrived from Texas A&M around the same time.
We heard a little more about Smith in the spring scrimmage last April when the tight end corralled a 25-yard touchdown. We’ll hear about him again Saturday when he breaks free as a short-yardage extra tight end and snags a 2-yard TD pass from Dillon Gabriel to make it 7-0, Sooners.
Smith is a cool story due to his connections to the OU program and to position coach Joe Jon Finley specifically. It gets cooler against Arky State.
One pick: Sooners 49, Red Wolves 10