When Kevin Wilson bolted to become the head coach at Indiana, Bob Stoops tabbed former Oklahoma quarterback Josh Heupel to run his offense.
Despite season-ending injuries to leading rusher Dominique Whaley and leading receiver Ryan Broyles, the Sooners still managed to finish fourth nationally in total offense. Only Houston, Baylor and Oklahoma State gained more yards per game.
Not bad for a year one play-caller.
Problem was, Heupel capped the regular season at Oklahoma State with a disastrous game plan, which Stoops even halfway threw under the bus afterward.
Despite facing a suspect run defense, despite possessing an unstoppable ground force in Blake Bell, despite playing with a banged up receiving corps, Heupel elected to call 15 pass plays, one reverse and no runs to start the game. By halftime, Heupel had called 38 passes to only 10 runs, and the Sooners fell behind 24-3. The offense ultimately folded with multiple turnovers, and OSU jumped to a 44-3 lead before the fourth quarter.
The rest of the offensive staff also had mixed reviews.
Jay Norvell’s wide receivers were phenomenal against Florida State and Kansas State, but tumbled down the stretch because of drops. Discipline was also a major issue with the unit as three different players served suspensions. Running backs coach Cale Gundy and tackles/tight ends coach Bruce Kittle ended up losing many of their players to transfer. The Sooners will go to the Insight Bowl with two running backs after opening the preseason with six, and have no returning tight ends for next season after Austin Haywood’s unexpected midseason departure. But the unearthing of Whaley was a major coup for Gundy, and Lane Johnson came along at right tackle under Kittle’s tutelage.
James Patton, meanwhile, had as good a coaching season as anyone, maneuvering through an injury to his most experience player, center Ben Habern, without a hitch. After Habern’s broken forearm injury, Gabe Ikard made a seamless transition to center, and Adam Shead became a blocking force at left guard out of the Belldozer. Tyler Evans was solid, too, and all four interior linemen are back next season.
In many games, Heupel and the OU offense was close to flawless. But for most of two games, the offense was a no-show – a big reason why the Sooners placed fourth in the Big 12 after beginning the year preseason No. 1.