Oklahoma mailbag: Sooners set for early signing period, Rose Bowl health, 2018 outlook

In one week, No. 2 Oklahoma starts filling its recruiting cupboard for 2018 and then turns its attention to No. 3 Georgia in the College Football Playoff semifinal in the Rose Bowl.

Questions about the next game dominate this week’s mailbag. Seems like most fans are adjusting to the National Signing Day madness moving up to December. Can’t blame them. The early signing period takes away some of the past drama. Coaches don’t have to babysit a recruit in late January if he’s signed with the school in December. The Sooners expect to sign the overwhelming majority of their players next week. Then they’ll pursue their remaining targets until Feb. 7.

As far as the Rose Bowl meeting with the third-ranked Bulldogs, this one should be fun. It’s going to be the strength of the Sooners’ offense against Georgia’s dominant defense.

Here are the questions of the week in the  Oklahoma mailbag.

Lenny via Facebook asks, are there any big recruits you think we have a chance at getting before the December signing period ends?

Depends on what “big” means to you?

Offensive tackle Brey Walker, running back T.J. Pledger, defensive end Ronnie Perkins, defensive end Ron Tatum, defensive end Jalen Redmond and wide receiver Jaqualyn Crawford are 4-star recruits and inside the 247Sports’ 2018 composite top 200.

All are expected to sign in the early period.

It seems like a similar scenario to the basketball signing period is set up with football this year. The guys who know where they want to go are ready to sign as soon as they can. The ones who want some drama are the most likely to wait until February.

But indications are the Sooners will have letters of intent from the overwhelming majority of their 2018 class by Dec. 22. They currently have commits from 20 recruits for 2018. It’s safe to assume anyone who doesn’t sign in December is no longer committed.

You can catch daily recruiting updates here.

Scott via Facebook asks, how healthy does Oklahoma look heading into the game?

Good question, Scott.

The Sooners didn’t pick up any injuries I can think of in the Big 12 title game victory over TCU. Assuming the Sooners don’t have injuries before departing for the short Christmas break, they should be as healthy as they’ve been this season.

Healthwise, it’s been a remarkable year for the Sooners. Some starters have missed games, but the only season-ending ailments were to sophomore cornerback Jordan Parker and defensive tackle Matt Romar.

Oklahoma should head to the Rose Bowl as healthy as any team in the College Football Playoff.

Chris via Facebook asks, do you think Oklahoma has a shot at getting back to the College Football Playoff next year?

The Sooners are going to lose talented players. Obviously, Baker Mayfield and Ogbonnia Okoronkwo are out of eligibility. The smart money is on offensive tackle Orlando Brown and tight end Mark Andrews entering the 2018 NFL Draft.

But Oklahoma should be good next year. Most of the defense returns along with the offensive line and skill positions. We’ll see what happens at quarterback. Kyler Murray and Austin Kendall get to battle for the job.

But the schedule doesn’t look as tough in 2018. The Sooners only have four road games — Iowa State, TCU, Texas Tech and West Virginia. The key will be September. The Sooners host Florida Atlantic, UCLA and Army. All are bowl teams this season.

Mark via Facebook asks, Georgia has only played two offenses in the top 50. Will that make a difference?

Statistically, the best offenses the Bulldogs faced this season were Missouri (No. 7 in total yards, 511.5 per game) and Auburn (No. 26, 454.0).

Georgia seemed to solve whatever problems it had with Auburn in the SEC title game. Holding Auburn to 259 total yards was a dominant performance.

Missouri scored more point, but again Georgia’s defense dominated that game, holding Missouri to nearly 200 yards less than its season average.

The bottom line: Georgia’s defense is the best the Sooners have seen thus far. If the Sooners have something close to an average offensive day in the Rose Bowl (583.3 yards and 44.9 points) it will be the best performance against Georgia this season.

Jordan via Facebook asks, do you prefer the 3-4 or 4-3 defense?

Scheme questions are tough to answer because it depends on the personnel. The Sooners employed both this season. For the most part, Okoronkwo played defensive end more than outside linebacker. Just because he doesn’t have his hand on the ground doesn’t mean he’s not playing defensive end.

When the Sooners started using the 3-4 scheme in 2013, matching up with spread offenses and lack of defensive line depth were the root causes.

I believe the defensive line depth has improved since. At least this season, Oklahoma lacked the linebackers to use it much.

It’ll be interesting to see what happens next season when Okoronkwo is in the NFL. You might see the Sooners go to a more traditional 4-3. But one thing that varies game to game is blocking schemes are better against certain alignments than others. Oklahoma used a 3-4 against Ohio State for that reason.

The post Oklahoma mailbag: Sooners set for early signing period, Rose Bowl health, 2018 outlook appeared first on Diehards.

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