What did we think/hope would happen?
There was no position that had more uncertainty for Oklahoma than receiver in the preseason. Kenny Stills was the only returning contributor. The roster was in flux: Courtney Gardner turned out to be ineligible; Jaz Reynolds and Trey Franks were still suspended; and transfer Jalen Saunders from Fresno State was going to have to sit out a year.
Justin Brown transferred in from Penn State and immediately seized a starting spot. The Sooners also had a young trio of Trey Metoyer, Sterling Shepard and Durron Neal hoping to crack the rotation. Metoyer had a big spring and August camp, and he looked like a star in the making.
OU planned to start Brown and Metoyer at the outside spots and Stills at the all important slot position.
What did happen?
OU started with the three-wide look of Stills at slot, Brown and Metoyer on the outside. While there were some moments of success early, Landry Jones was not clicking with that group. He was locking in on Stills at the slot and not seeing the flankers when they were open.
Starting with the Kanas State game, OU was having the most success with a four-wide package. Then everything really started clicking when the NCAA ruled Saunders eligible prior to the UT game. That enable receivers coach Jay Norvell to move Stills back to the outside with Brown, as Saunders took over the slot. Metoyer's playing time got reduced as he was now backing up Stills and Brown on the outside.
Landry started passing to the outside spots again while hitting Saunders in the slot. The passing game went into overdrive in November when OU moved to a four-wide look with Saunders and Shepard inside and Stills and Brown outside. Landry played at an elite level, perhaps even higher than the end of 2010 when he was throwing to the combo of Ryan Broyles, Stills and Cameron Kenney.
Overall, this WR group probably approached the elite level of the Mark Clayton-led corps from 2003-04.
What went right?
Landry hit 4,000 passing yards thanks to four frontline receivers with nearly 600 yards receiving each. Stills will probably hit 1,000 yards in the bowl game, and there's little doubt that with a full season Saunders would have had
1,000 receiving yards as well. With the efficiency of the WR lineup after Saunders became eligible, it's not hard to imagine a 5,000-yard season from Landry with three 1,000-yard WRs if Saunders was in the lineup from day one.
What went wrong?
*OU probably should have redshirted Durron Neal.
*Trey Metoyer's inability to click with Landry means that his superstar season never happened.
*Saunders' ineligibility probably cost OU the KSU game – OU's passing game struggled at times versus the Wildcats. OU's offense could have been in much better sync by eighth game of the year against Notre Dame's excellent defense.
Where do we go from here?
*Stills will probably leave for the NFL if he gets a second-round draft grade. Even if that happens, the Sooners will be in great shape. Shepard and Saunders both return, as well as Metoyer, Lacoltan Bester and Neal, who all saw
time this year and should improve with a spring to get additional reps. For a new QB, it will be the best inherited WR corps since Sam Bradford had Malcolm Kelly and Juaquin Iglesias.
*In addition, OU will take the redshirt off Derrick Woods, who has been very impressive on the scout team.
*One last note: It appears OU is in the final running for Laquon Treadwell, one of the top prep WRs in the country. There aren't many incoming freshmen who could make an impact for OU in 2013, but Treadwell is one of them. (Think A.J. Green for a comparison.)