In the year 1
A.B. (After Bosworth) of the new millennium, the Sooner wagon is so loaded with
talent that the Boz—the All-America linebacker and Dada artist whose greatest
canvas was himself—has become a memory as vague as winter wheat.
OU has nine
starters back from an offense that led the nation in rushing and scoring last
year and seven starters from a defense that was the first in history to lead
the NCAA in the four major team defensive categories—success against the pass
and the rush, and fewest total yards and points allowed. The Sooners outscored
their last nine opponents 391-50, but coach Barry Switzer is a little concerned
about his defense. "Our tackles will be inexperienced," he says. Yes,
and Bo Derek once had a pimple.
Some may dismiss
the Sooners as bullies for arranging what appears to be a two-game season:
Texas in Dallas on Oct. 10 and the final hoe-down with Nebraska in Lincoln on
Nov. 21. Along the way come seven Big Eight foes that the Sooners trampled by
an average score of 43-4 in 1986. Gone is Miami, the only team to beat Oklahoma
last year. Gone also from this year's original schedule are USC and SMU,
replaced by North Texas State and Tulsa.
" USC had to
play another Pac-10 team, and you know what happened to SMU," explains
Switzer. Yes, but what happened to North Texas and Tulsa—brain seizures?
" Tulsa's pretty tough," snaps Switzer, who likes to tell recruits,
"If you come to OU, we'll be going to bowl games and competing for the
national championship. And if you don't come to OU, we'll be going to bowl
games and competing for national championships."
And he's right.
The quarterback, of course, is option-master Jamelle Holieway (see story on
opposite page), who throws only when all else has failed. But in those crucial
situations he'll be looking to his 6'3", 248-pound All-America tight end,
Keith Jackson. A likable fellow who plays the cello for relaxation, Jackson
deserves a good conduct award for being a receiver on a wishbone team that has
averaged just 4.8 passes a game in his three seasons. But his 14 receptions
last year were good for 403 yards—a school-record 28.8 yards per catch—and five
secondary is virtually intact, with two all-conference safeties, Rickey Dixon
and David Vickers. They're a year older now, and don't think they won't be a
Bosworth as the strong-side linebacker will be quiet, 6'2", 225-pound
senior Dante Jones, who filled in for the banned Boz in OU's Orange Bowl rout
of Arkansas and made nine unassisted tackles. Jones feels he can surpass Boz on
the field, if not off. "Brian was always in the spotlight," says Jones.
"I ain't never been in the spotlight, except for one game, the Orange Bowl.
And I didn't really like it."
starters don't bathe in the spotlight as frequently as you may think, because
they see less playing time than scrubs at other schools. "Our goal is to
start out averaging 45 points or so a game, while we're rusty," says
Holieway. "Then 50 points or over, until Nebraska, which is a war. But I'm
going to ask Coach if I can just play a little more. I'm not talking about the
third quarter. I just want to see halftime."
Come on, Barry,
have a heart.