Oklahoma Sooners: Alex Okafor

Senior Bowl buzz from the Big 12

January, 26, 2013
1/26/13
10:00
AM ET
You can keep up with our scouts in Mobile, Ala., at the Senior Bowl this week with ESPN Insider, but here's a taste of what they've seen from the Big 12 talents this week:

Kansas State receiver Chris Harper got his first notebook mention of the week Insider after a strong practice for the North team. Scouts love his size (228 pounds) and ability to box out defenders for the ball, but had big questions about his speed and ability to get off the line. I'd agree with those. He's not a physical freak, but he's a great route-runner with really good hands. That can pay off at the next level. Our scouts said he had trouble getting free on underneath routes. We saw that at Kansas State. He's most effective out on the edge with cornerbacks, where safeties and linebackers couldn't necessarily help.

Texas defensive end Alex Okafor's up and down week continued, but he impressed on Wednesday in 1-on-1 workouts. There's some questions about his run-stopping ability and breaking loose against double teams, but he's at least earning some attention.

Oklahoma tackle Lane Johnson is turning heads for the South team Insider this week. Scouts are raving about his long arms and quickness. Considering he's a former quarterback, that's not much of a surprise.
Senior Bowl practices are in full swing, and our team of scouts are on the ground in Mobile, Ala. offering updates. What have they found from the Big 12 talents?

Baylor's Terrance Williams is already blowing up, and looked the part of the best receiver at the entire event, writes colleagues Todd McShay and Steve Muench Insider. Scouts loved his "elite speed" and ability to catch the ball over his shoulder and pluck it out of the air, as well as the ability to make defenders miss. He's not shifty, as you saw last year, but his straight-line speed is giving defenders fits.

Landry Jones stood out as the "best arm" of the South's quarterbacks, but drew criticism for holding on to the ball too long, even though our scouts cited some nice throws during team drills.

Our own Kevin Weidl came away impressed Insider with Texas DE Alex Okafor's performance out at the North practice. There was some inconsistency, but Weidl loved his length, power and use of his hands, even if he lacks some explosiveness, too.

One other tough note from Mobile? West Virginia receiver Tavon Austin was one of five players who canceled in the 72 hours before the game, reports our trio Insider.

They called those decisions "immature" and something that angers scouts, and will necessitate later explanation.

Film review: Oklahoma 63, Texas 21 

October, 14, 2012
10/14/12
4:30
PM ET
videoOklahoma delivered an eye-opener on the national landscape Saturday with its 63-21 win over Texas in the Red River Rivalry at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas. The Sooners dialed up play after play with great success against the Longhorns. Yet there were five key first-half plays that set the tone in OU’s blowout victory:

OU’s thirrd-and-8 conversion on its first possession

[+] EnlargeAaron Colvin
Matthew Emmons/US PresswireAaron Colvin picked off a pass in the first half against Texas, his second interception of the season.
This was a key play because the Sooners would have started the game three-and-out.

Postgame wrap: Oklahoma 63, Texas 21 

October, 14, 2012
10/14/12
10:00
AM ET
It’s rare you see a game with this many fascinating numbers to underscore one side’s dominance. Among them:

  • OU outgained Texas 677 to 289, handing the Longhorns their greatest yardage disparity in a game in 62 years, according to ESPN Stats & Info. OU had outgained Texas 407 yards to 65.

To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

With the Red River Rivalry game between No. 15 Texas and No. 13 Oklahoma coming up on Saturday, HornsNation's Carter Strickland and SoonerNation's Jake Trotter answer a few questions.

1. Does OU still have an edge at QB?

Carter Strickland: No. Over the past six games David Ash has actually had the better stats and a better winning percentage, 5-1 to 4-2 for Landry Jones. But the reason OU’s advantage is not as great as is not just because of Ash. Texas has more weapons on offense and is more comfortable getting the ball to the players and letting them create in space.

To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

The Big 12 got two swipes (should have been a third in 2011) at the SEC during the league's run of six national titles, but failed on both occasions.

Colt McCoy's shoulder suffered a freak injury on a usually harmless hit, and when McCoy trotted to the sideline, the Longhorns' chances of beating Alabama came off the field with him.

A season earlier, Florida twice stuffed Oklahoma on the goal line, giving Tim Tebow his second national title and denying the Sooners the school's eighth.

[+] EnlargeLandry Jones
Rick Scuteri/AP ImagesQuarterback Landry Jones is best suited to push Oklahoma past the SEC's supremacy when it comes to national titles.
So, who among the Big 12's contenders this season is best suited to end the SEC's tyranny?

The Sooners are simply the best team, even though Oklahoma is loaded with flaws. Question marks on the offensive and defensive lines as well as at linebacker could prove problematic in a showdown with one of the SEC titans, but the Sooners would love for the play of four-year starting quarterback Landry Jones to answer it. He's got the skills to decipher complex SEC defensive schemes and the pocket presence to elude the rush. His arm strength assures that SEC secondaries will have to cover the whole field.

The Sooners would have to get past Texas in the Red River Rivalry to make that happen. (Never mind 2008. Just humor me here.) If the Longhorns can survive a brutal Big 12 schedule with six 10-win teams on the docket, they're probably the best Big 12 team suited to beat one of the SEC's best teams in a national title game.

The problem is producing enough offense to beat Big 12 teams. In an SEC matchup, though, it's all about the line of scrimmage. Texas' defensive line may challenge LSU as the nation's best, and the Longhorns have a crazy duo at defensive end in Alex Okafor and Jackson Jeffcoat, two of the nation's best at the position.

Texas' depth at defensive line is huge, too, but it likely has the Big 12's best offensive line. The loaded backfield of Joe Bergeron, Malcolm Brown and Johnathan Gray is a good sign, too. Mack Brown brought in assistants with SEC ties like Manny Diaz (defensive coordinator), Bo Davis (defensive tackles) and Stacy Searels (offensive line) to offer his team a little SEC flavor. You want power football, Nick Saban and Les Miles? Texas would love to play some power football.

What about a Big 12 newcomer who's never won the league and never played for a national title in the BCS era?

West Virginia is all about speed. There are plenty of questions on the defensive line, but the Mountaineers will test the mettle of any SEC defense that's feasted on weak offense all season. Geno Smith's got a big arm and the Big 12's two best receivers in Stedman Bailey and Tavon Austin.

West Virginia has to play its best, but if Dana Holgorsen's team can hang 70 on Clemson like it did at the Orange Bowl, the Mountaineers' biggest stage last season, you've got to like its chances to at least put 30 or 40 on the board against an SEC team. Do that, and WVU will have a shot. Just have to survive the first year in the Big 12 and win a league title first.

There's no USC in the Big 12, a team built for a title run in 2012. The Big 12 does have plenty of contenders, though, and if any of these three teams gets a shot, they won't take it lightly.

Sooners schedule preview: Texas 

July, 10, 2012
7/10/12
2:00
PM ET
October 13, 2012: vs. Texas (in Dallas)
2011 record: 8-5 | 2011 conference record: 4-5 (Big 12)
OU’s all-time against Texas: 42-59-5

Top returners: QB David Ash, RB Malcolm Brown, WR Marquise Goodwin, WR Jaxon Shipley, WR Mike Davis, OT Trey Hopkins, OT Josh Cochran, C Dominic Espinosa, DE Jackson Jeffcoat, DE Alex Okafor, DT Ashton Dorsey, LB Jordan Hicks, CB Quandre Diggs, CB Carrington Byndom, S Kenny Vaccaro

Key losses: FB Cody Johnson, RB Fozzy Whittaker, G David Snow, DT Kheeston Randall, LB Emmanuel Acho, LB Keenan Robinson, S Blake Gideon, S Christian Scott, K Justin Tucker

2011 statistical leaders (*returners)
Rushing: Malcolm Brown* (742 yards)
Passing: David Ash* (1,068 yards)
Receiving: Mike Davis* (609 yards)
Tackles: Emmanuel Acho (131)
Sacks: Jackson Jeffcoat* (7)
Interceptions: Quandre Diggs* (4)

What they’re saying: "I think we're back more to '08." – Texas coach Mack Brown, comparing this year’s squad with the one in 2008 that went 12-1.

Three things to watch:

1. For Texas to contend for a Big 12 title, David Ash must play like an upper-echelon Big 12 quarterback. Ash has the talent, and he’s shown flashes. But he’s yet to perform at that level on a consistent basis. QB play is the biggest reason why Texas has endured back-to-back mediocre seasons. But Ash takes care of the ball and makes his share of plays, the Longhorns will be dangerous.

2. The Longhorns, potentially, have the best defense in the Big 12, and one of the best in the country. Ends Jackson Jeffcoat and Alex Okafor, who combined for 15 sacks last season, will give Texas a lethal presence off the edge. The Horns also have a pair of lockdown cornerbacks in Carrington Byndom and Quandre Diggs. Defense hasn’t been Texas’ problem, and this season, it figures to be a massive strength.

3. The battle of the oranges in Stillwater on Sept. 29 will be critical for both Texas and Oklahoma State, giving the winner the inside track to compete with OU, West Virginia and TCU for the conference crown. Should Texas lose that game, the Longhorns could slip into a free fall, with back-to-back games against the Mountaineers and Sooners looming next.

To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

SPONSORED HEADLINES

Oklahoma, Perine Run By West Virginia
Samaje Perine's 242 yards and four touchdowns helped Oklahoma race by West Virginia in the second half to stay unbeaten.
VIDEO PLAYLIST video