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A short list of a few things that I would like to see happen this football season where the Sooners and their fans are concerned
I have no idea what will happen during this Oklahoma football season. I have a very good idea about what I want to happen...
I would like to see the Sooners play well at Tennessee — the Vols, too — and for the game to come down to the final possession.
I fear there will soon come a time where Power Five teams join Baylor and see their path to the College Football Playoff as “just win baby.” Schedule softly in September, go into your conference schedule undefeated and take your chances from there.
It makes sense. It is also cowardly. And it cheats your fans.
That thinking makes games like OU’s in Knoxville September 12 so worthy. The football traditions, the fan bases, the fight songs, the uniforms — all right there on a glorious Saturday night. It is a rich mix that deserves a fittingly competitive game.
Here’s hoping that is exactly what we get at Neyland Stadium.
I would like to see the Sooners play well in the Cotton Bowl — the Longhorns, too — and for the game to resemble 2008.
Let’s face it, OU-Texas is stuck in the mud. The Sooners haven’t played all that well the past two years. The two years before that, the Longhorns barely showed up. The games in 2009 and ’10 were competitive, but not all that exciting.
One of college football’s great rivalries needs a great game. Badly. The one in ’08, with future pros making plays all over the field, was truly great.
There won’t be nearly as many pros in the Cotton Bowl October 10, but that doesn’t mean they can’t play a classic. The rivalry is due another classic.
I would like to see Baker Mayfield have some success and let his guard down even more.
Did you notice Mayfield last year? He couldn't play, but he could darn sure try to impact his team.
Flying around pregame drills with that towel around his neck. Showing up at the TCU game in Fort Worth to help break the Horned Frogs’ offensive code. Showing up at the Texas Tech game in Lubbock, then smiling and waving at his middle-finger hecklers. Giving the Sooners their only Russell Athletic Bowl highlight with an impromptu dance at a children’s event.
This is a program in need of more wins, yes, but more energy as well. Eric Striker is trying, but linebackers don’t have the impact that quarterbacks do.
Mayfield is a human shot of adrenaline at a time the Sooners desperately need one. This is no time to go 8-5 again, no time to put your fan base back to sleep. Not with a stadium renovation in the balance.
Win 10 games, and have Mayfield inject 25-30 touchdown passes plus one brash personality along the way, things are going to feel completely different.
I would like to see another surge from Samaje Perine.
He’s the freshman running back who went about his business quietly and professionally one preseason ago. Karma applies to football, too, and so that was Perine reaping the benefits (and records) from all of his hard work.
Somehow, he presents himself even more wisely and maturely than he did as a Freshman All-American. While his fan base worries about his getting overlooked in Lincoln Riley’s Air Raid, he sheds 10-15 pounds and works on his pass-catching to maximize his potential in OU’s new offense.
Concerned that Perine doesn’t get as many opportunities in Riley’s offense, or with classmate Joe Mixon back in the mix?
Just remember that Bob Stoops tends to reward those who work hardest, and carry themselves proudest.
I would like to see the Charles Tapper from 2013.
The plays simply weren’t there for Tapper to make last year like they were in ’13. And the few times they were there, something seemed to get in the way of his making them.
Nobody was more frustrated about the defensive end’s slump than the defensive end himself. Tapper handled occasionally difficult interview settings with honesty and self-awareness, two character traits that journalists crave and fans should appreciate.
I spent a few minutes with Tapper’s mother at OU’s game at West Virginia last September and recognized immediately that Rhonda Tapper passed those traits down to her son. She’ll no doubt be rooting for a comeback for Charles this season.
So will I.
I would like to see Sterling Shepard stay healthy.
The star receiver ran into some trouble, literally, while making a circus catch in the corner of the Owen Field end zone against Kansas State last year. He fell atop some equipment that belonged to my friend and Tulsa World colleague Mike Simons.
Shepard was injured and left the game. Simons, when he realized Shepard had been hurt, was apologetic.
Both men handled the aftermath gracefully. Simons wrote a blog explaining how poorly he felt, and shedding some light on his job as photographer. Shepard acknowledged that it was an accident and continued about his season.
Unfortunately, he fell hurt again just three weeks later while completing a long catch against Iowa State. The Sooners’ passing attack blew a fuse without him, but that’s not why I’d like to see him play 13 pain-free games this fall.
I’d like a full season out of Shepard because decent people deserve nice things to happen for them.
(Editor's Note: This column appears in the 2015 August Football Kickoff issue of Sooner Spectator. To subscribe, call 405-364-4515)