Roundtable: Biggest unknown for Sooners

What is the biggest unknown about the Sooners going into the season?

When the going got tough, the Sooners folded last season. Nowhere was OU's lack of mental toughness more exposed than in a loss at Oklahoma State in which the Sooners trailed 44-3 in the fourth quarter. The Sooners haven't always been at full strength. But even when they've lost star players before -- like Sam Bradford against Texas in 2009 -- they've usually played with resolve. It will be interesting to see how this team responds. Maybe Mike Stoops will help restore mental toughness to the defense. Maybe the healthy return of Dom Whaley will help bring back toughness to the offense. But until this team faces adversity, it remains an unknown. And it may be the biggest determining factor in whether OU will have anything to play for come November.

- Jake Trotter

Did the Sooners learn anything from 2011? That's the biggest unknown for Oklahoma as 2012 approaches. I think most people would agree that lack of talent wasn't the issue as OU lost games they should have won last season. With Landry Jones at the helm, OU has a chance to make a run at another national championship. Position battles and depth concerns won't matter if they didn't learn from last year and take the correct steps toward becoming a consistent and focused football team. On and off the field.

- Brandon Chatmon

Preseason storylines have centered around depth issues at wide receiver and offensive line, but what is going to make or break OU’s 2012 season is how well the defensive backs perform. With Mike Stoops back in the fold, will the Sooners regain that swagger and tough-minded mentality? There's no need to revisit last season’s troubles as it has been well documented. But with a lot of the same personnel returning, will Stoops be able to put the pieces in the right spot? Between Demontre Hurst, Tony Jefferson and Aaron Colvin, there are players who can make big-time plays at any given moment. It’s just a question of everything coming together and the group learning from their costly mistakes in 2011.

- Bob Przybylo

The health of Dominique Whaley could be the difference in Oklahoma being very good and great this season. No matter how much Whaley and his teammates and coaches talk about him being fully healthy for the season, no one will know for certain how his repaired ankle will hold up until the Sooners begin their season against UTEP on Sept. 1. If Whaley is "100 percent" healthy, like he said last week, then OU could have a very stout running game, plus a solid pass-catcher and pass-protector. But if he's not the same back as he was before his injury, the Sooners might have to go back to the running-back-by-committee approach.

- Dane Beavers