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Wrapping Up The 2012 Season For The Sooners And Looking Ahead To 2013

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The 2012 season for the Oklahoma Sooners had its fair share of ups and downs; memories fans would like to preserve forever and memories fans would rather forget. For Oklahoma, a co-Big 12 championship was an accomplishment to be proud of, but not what players and coaches wanted or expected the end game to be.

The season was defined by the thought of what could be. A few plays here or there against Kansas State and Notre Dame, and Oklahoma could've been right in the thick of the national championship picture. Instead, those plays didn't go the way of the Sooners, and OU's national title drought extended another year.

Here are a couple tidbits about the Sooners' 2012 season, along with some thoughts about what's coming for the Sooners' in 2013.

2012 losses:

Offense- Landry Jones (QB), Kenny Stills (WR), Lane Johnson (OT), Justin Brown (WR)

Defense- RJ Washington (DE), Jamarkus McFarland (DT), Casey Walker (DT), Stacy McGee (DT), David King (DE), Tom Wort (LB), Demontre Hurst (CB), Tony Jefferson (S), Javon Harris (S)

Other- Jaydan Bird (FB/LB), Tress Way (P), Patrick O'Hara (K), Daniel Franklin (LS)

RELATED STORY: Handing Out Awards For The 2012 Sooners

Best moment: Bedlam

The Sooners rallied from a 14-point first half deficit and an eight-point deficit in the fourth quarter to force overtime. The Sooners eventually won on Brennan Clay's touchdown run in the extra period. The reaction in Norman was incredible, proving Bedlam has become much more than the lopsided rivalry it has been in the past.

Worst moment: Cotton Bowl

OU disappointed in its other two big games against Kansas State and Notre Dame, but those performances were nothing compared to the egg the Sooners laid in Cowboys Stadium against Texas A&M. The defense couldn't contain Johnny Manziel and, after a promising first half, the offense couldn't move the ball after halftime. A 41-13 demolition wasn't exactly what the Sooners had in mind to end the season.

2013 look ahead

1. Quarterback battle

It has appeared for quite some time that Blake Bell is the heir apparent Landry Jones. However, it will be a completely open competition come spring practice, and both OU coaches and players have been raving about freshman Trevor Knight. Knight redshirted this season and quarterbacked the scout team. Kendal Thompson and Drew Allen will of course be a part of the competition, but it's unlikely Allen will win the job.

2. Defense

The Sooners are losing a ton of vital pieces from this past season's unit. The return of Mike Stoops as defensive coordinator appeared to have fixed the problems the defense had a year ago. As the season went along, it became very obvious the defense still had a long way to go. The offense bailed OU out in wins against West Virginia and Oklahoma State, but was unable to do so against Texas A&M. Now, the loss of so many personnel has many wondering when the Sooners will actually improve. The defensive line, particularly defensive tackle, has been hit very hard. However, with how little pressure on the quarterback the defensive line generated this season, it could be argued those players aren't a loss at all. A loss in veteran leadership, sure, but perhaps not in the talent department.

3. Changes

Oklahoma fans have been up in arms since the Sooners' embarrassing performance in the Cotton Bowl Jan. 4. It's pretty much always national championship or bust as far as expectations go in Norman, but based on Bob Stoops' continued emphasis on a co-Big 12 championship this season, it's clear Stoops didn't have those same expectations fans did. Whether or not that's acceptable is up to the fans to decide. It's obvious some changes need to be made, but where those changes need to occur is a bit less clear. One thing's for sure: the methods Stoops used to win a national championship in 2000 aren't working now, on the field or in recruiting. Something has to happen.

Strongest position in 2013: Running back

It's basically a toss-up between running back and wide receiver, but the amount of senior-level experience at the running back position gave that position the nod. The Sooners will have seniors Damien Williams, Brennan Clay, Roy Finch and Trey Millard returning next season to lead the unit. Altogether, the Sooners return 94 percent of their rushing yards from a year ago, losing just Dominique Whaley. The Sooners also have Alex Ross and David Smith who redshirted this season, as well as incoming freshman Keith Ford, one of the top running backs in the country. OU has a plethora of backs at its disposal, and with a strong offensive line, should do plenty of damage on the ground next season.

Weakest position in 2013: Defensive tackle

The Sooners lose their top three rotation players—Jamarkus McFarland, Casey Walker and Stacy McGee—to graduation, and have almost zero playing experience remaining on the roster. Jordan Phillips has drawn the most praise from the coaching staff, while Jordan Wade and Marquis Anderson have shown promise. OU also has seniors-to-be Torrea Peterson and Damon Williams, but that's it. Thankfully, OU has gotten verbal commitments from three defensive tackles in the past month. Those two freshmen and JUCO transfer Quincy Russell will have the opportunity to battle for immediate playing time.

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