Oklahoma finished 2022 with a disappointing 6-7 record and barely made a bowl game. Its six wins also came against the bottom end of the schedule, losing to Florida State, Texas Kansas State, among others. This year, FanDuel Sportsbook expects improvement, opening the bidding on Oklahoma’s win total at 8.5, with the over juiced to -230. The Sooners also come in at +6000 to win the National Championship and +340 to win the Big 12. With all of that said, let’s dive into the Oklahoma roster.
2023 Oklahoma Football Season Preview & Predictions
Oklahoma Football 2023 Season Preview: Coaching Staff
Oklahoma now enters the second year of the Brett Venables era. Most of the coaching staff remains intact. Jeff Lebby returns at offensive coordinator after leading Oklahoma to the 25th ranked scoring offense in 2022. He previously coordinated the Ole Miss offense under Lane Kiffin in 2020 and 2021. On defense, Todd Bates and Ted Roof both return as co-defensive coordinators. Oklahoma ranked 80th on defense last year, which comes in a slight surprise given Venables’ pedigree as a defensive coordinator.
Oklahoma Football 2023 Season Preview: Offense
At quarterback, Oklahoma returns Dillon Gabriel. Gabriel completed 234 of his 373 pass attempts (62.7%) for 3,184 yards (8.5 yards per attempt), 25 touchdowns and six interceptions in his first year with Oklahoma. He has a little bit of mobility, with 315 rushing yards on 89 attempts (3.5 yards per carry). Gabriel finished as the highest-graded quarterback in the Big 12 last season, per PFF. The only problem came when Gabriel briefly got hurt. The play from backup Davis Beville was absolutely atrocious. Beville remains on the roster, but freshman Jackson Arnold should immediately jump him on the depth chart. Arnold comes in as a 5-star recruit and the 10th-ranked player in the 2023 class. This should be a better overall quarterback room this year.
At running back, Oklahoma lost leading rusher Eric Gray, but it returns a pair of second-year, 4-star recruits in Jovantae Barnes and Gavin Sawchuk. Barnes is 6-foot-0, 201 pounds, and rushed for 515 yards and five touchdowns on 116 attempts last year. He also caught five passes for 26 yards and had a pair of drops. He averaged 2.28 yards after contact per attempt, averaging a forced missed tackle on 12.1% of his attempts. Sawchuk is 5-foot-11, 185 pounds, and only rushed 17 times for 112 yards. While hyper-efficient in a small sample, Sawchuk did not receive much playing time last season. Marcus Major also returns after rushing 56 times for 227 yards. He caught eight passes for 61 yards. The roster also has 4-star freshman Daylan Smothers for depth. Gray proved more efficient than any of the other rushers by a mile. This group should operate by committee with Barnes at the top, but it will need a step forward from someone.
The receiver position lost alpha Marvin Mims and a number of depth pieces, including Theo Wease. Fortunately, third- and fourth-leading receivers Jalil Farooq and Drake Stoops return. Farooq is 6-foot-1, 206 pounds, and caught 40 passes for 485 yards and five touchdowns. He played out wide 86% of the time, and his 1.39 yards per route ranked 31st in the Big 12. Stoops is 5-foot-10, 191 pounds, and caught 39 passes for 393 yards and three touchdowns. He played in the slot 82.6% of the time and his 1.15 yards per route ranked 40th in the conference. To help ease the loss of Mims, Oklahoma brought in Michigan transfer Andrel Anthony and Texas transfer Brenen Thompson. Anthony is 6-foot-2, 190 pounds, and caught seven passes for 80 yards and one touchdown last season. Thompson is 5-foot-11, 162 pounds, and caught one pass for 32 yards last year. Both are former 4-star recruits, and Thompson in particular is known as a burner given his track background. Arizona State transfer L.V. Bunkley-Shelton and 2022 4-star Jayden Gibson project to provide depth. This team is littered with former and current 4-star receivers that could play in a pinch or ascend the depth chart. Nic Anderson and J.J. Hester both missed time this spring but could play as well.
At tight end, Oklahoma lost Brayden Willis this offseason after he finished second on the team in receiving. Depth tight end Daniel Parker also left this offseason. However, Austin Stogner transferred back into the program after spending a season with South Carolina. He is 6-foot-5, 250 pounds, and caught 20 passes for 210 yards in 2022. Back in 2020 with Oklahoma, Stogner recorded 26 receptions for 422 yards. Stogner has been up and down as a blocker, but he still blocked on about 53.3% of his snaps last year. It also added Texas A&M transfer Blake Smith. Smith has only played 76 snaps in two years but provides quality depth. Kaden Helms rounds out the depth here.
Oklahoma played well enough along the offensive line last year, but it now loses right guard Chris Murray, left tackle Anton Harrison, right tackle Wanya Morris and center/guard Robert Congel. With these departures, it looks like Oklahoma’s biggest question comes at left tackle. Walter Rouse transferred in from Stanford, but an offseason surgery held him out of spring. Rouse has four years of starting experience with Stanford and should provide a quality option. With Rouse out, 4-star freshman and top-100 recruit Cayden Green started at left tackle this spring. Left guard should be manned by McKade Mettauer after he played 807 snaps last year. At center, Andrew Raym returns after [playing 700 snaps in 2022. Right guard Savion Byrd has quickly ascended the depth chart and now projects to start at right guard. He played 149 snaps last season but has excelled in the spring. Mettauer and Raym were two of the better interior linemen in the conference, making this a strong interior group. Right tackle should be Tyler Guyton, who filled in for 401 snaps last year due to injury ahead of him. This returning experience will be key for Oklahoma this year. If some of these players cannot make the jump or an injury occurs, Oklahoma added two transfers. Caleb Shaffer comes over from Miami (Ohio), and Appalachian State center Troy Everett also joined the program this offseason.
Oklahoma Football 2023 Season Preview: Defense
Mentioned above, Oklahoma ranked 80th in overall defense in 2022. This included the46th-ranked run defense, 107th-ranked pass rush and 87th-ranked secondary. The Sooners lost a ton of production on defense, but this might be an addition by subtraction situation. Oklahoma brought in eight transfers and nine recruits of at least 4-stars this offseason.
Of all of the defensive positions, the line returns the most production for Oklahoma. On the edge, Ethan Downs and Reggie Grimes return 584 and 516 snaps. Downs played particularly well with 4.5 sacks and 13.5 tackles for loss. Both of which led Oklahoma last year. Grimes also had 4.5 sacks, but he may take a backseat to Wake Forest transfer Rondell Bothroyd. Bothroyd has four years of starting experience, which includes 14 sacks over the last two. Trace Ford also comes in from Oklahoma State with eight sacks over the last three years.
On the interior, Jordan Kelley and Isaiah Coe project as starters. The pair played 399 and 465 snaps apiece and held up well against the run. The Sooners added a slew of transfer on the interior and moved Jonah Laulu inside after playing the edge last season. Jacob Lacey comes over from Notre Dame. Davon Sears transferred in from Texas State. Da’Jon Terry entered the program from Tennessee and Phillip Paea comes over from Utah State. This group should be much deeper.
At linebacker, DaShaun White and David Ugwoegbu depart. White might be the most impactful departure on the defense. However, the Sooners return Danny Stutsman on the weak side after 992 snaps. He led the team with 125 tackles. Jaren Kanak projects to fill in for Ugwoegbu in the middle, but he only played 139 snaps last year. Finally, premier Indiana transfer Dasan McCullough comes in to play the Cheetah position, which is a linebacker/defensive back hybrid. As a freshman McCullough recorded 49 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss, four sacks and three pass breakups. While this is not the deepest position, the upper end talent should be there for Oklahoma.
The secondary lost C.J. Coldon and Jaden Davis, leaving Oklahoma somewhat thin at the corner position. Fortunately, it returns full-time starter Woodi Washington. He tied for a team-leading six pass breakups, while notching an interception as well. The transfer of Davis leaves Oklahoma particularly thin opposite Washington. Gentry Williams and Kani Walker projected as the direct backups prior to the transfer. One of them could be pressed into full time starting action now.
At safety, Oklahoma lost Justin Broiles, but it returns two starters in Billy Bowman and Lawrence Key. The pair played 677 and 432 snaps last year. Bowman out-performed Key a bit last season. He broke up five passes and recorded three interceptions. It looked like Key might play more of a reserve role when Oklahoma added Texas Tech transfer Reggie Pearson. However, all three may play full time snaps due to the Sooners’ weakness at corner. Pearson started three seasons at Texas Tech. He broke up four passes and recorded two interceptions last year. Oklahoma added a slew of elite recruits in the secondary, including Peyton Bowen, who could all see time this year.
2023 Oklahoma Football Schedule & Predictions
Oklahoma Football 2023 Schedule
As far as Big 12 schedules go, Oklahoma landed one of the easier years. Its non-conference features Arkansas State, SMU and Tulsa. While SMU historically plays well for a G5 program, Oklahoma should be a clear favorite. Its Big 12 schedule includes Texas, but its next toughest opponent in TCU comes in with the sixth best odds to win the conference. Ultimately, Oklahoma’s year likely comes down to the Texas game.
Oklahoma Football Futures Bet & Prediction
Ultimately, Oklahoma should be favored in at least 11 games, if the season started today. Unlike last season, this team has more depth without sacrificing its higher-end talent. With this blend, multiple bets are on the table for Oklahoma. Its 8.5-win total comes in juiced at -230 to the over. If Oklahoma eclipses this win total, the Sooners have an excellent path to the Big 12 title game. At +340 to win the conference, these odds provide the best way to take advantage of Oklahoma futures this offseason.
Best Oklahoma Football Futures Bet: Big 12 Champions +340 at FanDuel
You can read the rest of Matt Gajewski’s 2023 college football season previews and predictions below!
- Alabama Season Preview & Predictions
- Arkansas Season Preview & Predictions
- Auburn Season Preview & Predictions
- Georgia Season Preview & Predictions
- Kentucky Season Preview & Predictions
- LSU Season Preview & Predictions
- Mississippi State Season Preview & Predictions
- Missouri Season Preview & Predictions
- Ole Miss Season Preview & Predictions
- South Carolina Season Preview & Predictions
- Tennessee Season Preview & Predictions
- Texas A&M Season Preview & Predictions