If ESPN reporter Chris Low’s prediction comes to fruition, then Oklahoma fans just might be popping champagne when it’s all said and done. Slight exaggeration maybe, but it would no doubt be a great sign for how the 2022 season played out for the Sooners.
Low selected Oklahoma offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Jeff Lebby as the most sought after assistant coach for the next coaching carousel.
Baseball fans love the long ball, and football fans love offenses that are entertaining and can light up scoreboards. Jeff Lebby, who will be in his first season as Oklahoma’s offensive coordinator, has shown at both Ole Miss and UCF that his offenses can be balanced, creative and innovative. And with the game being as quarterback-centric as it’s ever been, Lebby’s ability to develop quarterbacks will also make him a hot commodity.
Matt Corral blossomed last season at Ole Miss under Lebby and Lane Kiffin, and while it was Kiffin’s offense, Lebby is the one who actually called the plays during the games and has a knack for calling plays at lightning speed based on formations. If UCF transfer Dillon Gabriel comes in and keeps OU’s offense rolling, Lebby will find his way on several coaching short lists following the 2022 season. – Low, ESPN.
It’s not at all difficult to envision Lebby being one of the top head coaching candidates nationally if he turns Gabriel into a Heisman Trophy candidate and Oklahoma’s offense resembles Lebby’s last three. In 2019 with Gabriel as his starting quarterback, Lebby’s UCF offense ranked second nationally in total offense averaging 540.5 yards per game and fifth nationally in scoring offense with at 43.4 points per game.
Then, at Ole Miss in 2020, Lebby and quarterback Matt Corral ranked third nationally in total offense averaging 555.5 yards per game. Corral led led the nation with his 384.9 yards of total offense per game and ranked fifth in the country with his 333.7 passing yards per contest in 2020. Ole Miss also broke the SEC record for total offense in league play during the 2020 campaign, averaging 562.4 yards per game.
Ole Miss finished No. 6 in the nation in total offense in 2021 after averaging 492.5 yards per game. Corral passed for 3,349 yards and 20 touchdowns against five interceptions in 2021.
All of that is to say that Lebby arrives at Oklahoma with quite the reputation. It will be regarded as highly impressive if Lebby can turn the Sooners’ 2022 offense into one of the nation’s best after replacing the starting quarterback, losing its leading rusher, four of its top five receiving yardage leaders and a pair of starting offensive linemen from last season.
At the quarterback position, Gabriel is a proven starter that has thrown over 8,000 yards and 70 touchdowns in his college career. OU is searching for depth at wide receiver and doesn’t have a bonafide No. 1 running back entering 2022, though.
Running backs Eric Gray and Marcus Major return and will be granted every opportunity for starring roles. OU also signed a pair of four-star running backs in Jovantae Barnes and Gavin Sawchuk that will have the chance to see the field from day one if it doesn’t click with the aforementioned two running backs.
At wide receiver, Oklahoma is bolstered by the return to good health of five-star signee Theo Wease. The Sooners bring back one of the country’s best in Marvin Mims. Jalil Farooq showcased in the Alamo Bowl that he is perhaps ready for an increased role within OU’s offense. Drake Stoops, Brian Darby and Trevon West return as well. All of those receivers will be joined by four-star signees Nic Anderson and Jayden Gibson.
On its offensive line, Oklahoma brings in Cal transfer offensive lineman McKade Mettauer who made 28 starts at right guard over the last three seasons. His presence will be a key addition along with OU’s returning starters up front in left tackle Anton Harrison, center Andrew Raym and right guard Chris Murray.
There’s some questions to be answered with this offense, but OU has good options to step in and take over leading roles.
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