Skip to main content

Late in the fourth quarter, in Morgantown tied at 20, Oklahoma head coach Brent Venables sent out kicker Zach Schmit for a 46 yard field attempt. 

The conditions in Morgantown were not ideal, there was heavy rain and trade winds that weren't ideal for kickers. Late in the first half, West Virginia fumbled the snap and Oklahoma defender Billy Bowman returned it for two points. 

With 6:24 to go in the game, Schmit attempted the 46 yard field goal that hit the upright, and that result has been a microcosm for the 2022 Oklahoma Sooners, the inability to execute in the big moments ultimately doom them. 

West Virginia would not relinquish the football and would run the rest of the clock on a 15 play drive that ended on a 25 yard field goal by Casey Legg to give the Mountaineers a 23-20 win. It was a fifth loss for the Sooners, the most since 2014.

Venables said postgame about the Sooners not being able to finish, "It's always been about the finish, and there is nothing easy about it. After disappointment, the character will reveal itself. They're young guys, and they're hurting right now. They're really, really hurting. At some point, we have to be pissed and do something about it. It isn't okay. You have to get better; we have to get better. You have to coach them better. We have to play better, and we have to play smarter. We have to be more efficient. I thought West Virginia did a great job today, but I thought Oklahoma beat Oklahoma today."

The erosion of the Oklahoma program didn't start with Brent Venables it has been an accumulated amount of events that has taken Oklahoma from the premier Big XII program to one struggling to get bowl eligible. 


Coach Lincoln Riley talks with Caleb Williams (13) during the Sooners' 28-21 win against Iowa State on Nov. 20, 2021. Both now are reunited at USC.

Coach Lincoln Riley talks with Caleb Williams (13) during the Sooners' 28-21 win against Iowa State on Nov. 20, 2021. Both now are reunited at USC.

When a program begins to decline, a decline in recruiting is usually where a program begins to dip. On the surface, Oklahoma's recruiting rankings have been consistent and near the top of the country. 

Year247 Composite RankPoints

2018

9

276.62

2019

6

279.28

2020

13

259.38

2021

10

268.95

2022

8

266.73

When you begin to unravel how some of the more recent classes have faired for Oklahoma is where you begin to see why Oklahoma is in the quagmire it is in. 

Of the Top 30 recruits from the classes of 2019 through 2021, 13 Sooners commitments have either transferred or been dismissed from the roster. This is highlighted by the Class of 2019, who would be the heart of the foundation of the 2022 squad, seven of their top ten rated recruits per 247 are no longer part of the Oklahoma roster. 

Oklahoma Top 10 Recruits of 2019 Per 247

NamePositionStarsNational Position RankCurrent TeamNotes

Jadon Haselwood

WR

5-star

1

Arkansas

Spencer Rattler

QB

5-star

1

South Carolina

Theo Wease

WR

4-star

3

Oklahoma

16 rec. 255 yards 3 touchdowns

Trejan Bridges

WR

4-star

11

N/A

Off Field Misconduct

Austin Stogner

TE

4-star

3

South Carolina

Jeremiah Criddell

S

4-star

15

N/A

Retired due to concussions

Stacey Wilkins

T

4-star

15

Louisiana-Monroe

Woodi Washington

DB

4-star

22

Oklahoma

49 tackles 1 FF 1 INT 3 Passes Defended

Josepth Wete

EDGE

4-star

11

N/A

No longer with Oklahoma

Jaden Davis

DB

4-star

15

Oklahoma

32 tackles 2 Passes Defended

While the receivers of that 2019 recruiting class has produced the majority of receiving production, the Sooners did land a group of top receivers highlighted by Marvin Mims staying at Oklahoma. 

Rushing is paved the way by Eric Gray who was a transfer from Tennessee and quarterback Dillon Gabriel a UCF transfer, true freshman Jovantae Barnes highlights the Class of 2022 and looks to lead the future Sooner backfields but the void of transfers and those who didn't pan out is causing issues is costing them this season.

Rushing Yards By Class

Rushing Yards By Class

Receiving Yards by Class

Receiving Yards by Class

Another theme that hurts Oklahoma is the downgrade in quarterback play in Norman. 

Under Lincoln Riley, the level of quarterback play was at the apex of the sport. Quarterbacks such has Jalen Hurts, who is playing at a MVP level for the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFL this season, Heisman Trophy winners Kyler Murray and Baker Mayfield, and current Southern Cal quarterback and Heisman hopeful Caleb Williams played at a level that is leaps and bounds higher than current quarterback Dillon Gabriel is performing at this season. 

Yesterday in Morgantown, Gabriel wasn't helped by the weather and conditions, but he missed several key throws that could have changed the course of the game. Instead, the Sooners offense would stall and kept the Mountaineers in the game longer than it should. 

Scroll to Continue

Recommended Articles

Amongst the Top 30 Sooners recruits from the Classes of 2019 to 2021, 11 recruits were concentrated on defense, with a twelfth in athlete Billy Bowman from the Class of 2021 who is now contributing in the Sooners secondary. 

Out of the 12, five no longer have any affiliation with the Sooners. Three have transferred, defensive tackle Perrion Winfrey is now in the NFL with the Cleveland Browns, and safety Jeremiah Criddell medically retired due to concussions.


Dec 30, 2020; Arlington, TX, USA; Oklahoma Sooners defensive coordinator Alex Grinch reacts during the second half against the Florida Gators at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Dec 30, 2020; Arlington, TX, USA; Oklahoma Sooners defensive coordinator Alex Grinch reacts during the second half against the Florida Gators at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

When Brent Venables originally departed Oklahoma after the 2011 season, Oklahoma has been trying to find consistency with the defense. Only once in the decade that Venables was in Clemson did Oklahoma finish in the Top 25 in both scoring defense and total defense, something that was the norm in Clemson.

YearPoints Allowed Per GameRankTotal DefenseRank

2012

25.5

50

398.5

66

2013

22.1

23

350.2

20

2014

25.9

56

382.6

52

2015

22.0

29

364.5

39

2016

28.8

69

432.0

82

2017

27.1

68

394.9

67

2018

33.3

101

453.8

114

2019

27.3

64

357.1

38

2020

21.7

29

350.8

29

2021

25.8

60

391.5

76

During a disastrous 2018 season on defense that was near the bottom in the country in every defensive statistic, Riley fired defensive coordinator Mike Stoops following a 48-45 loss to Texas. Riley would hire following the season Ohio State co-defensive coordinator and safeties coach Alex Grinch as defensive coordinator. 

Grinch was able to improve the Sooners defense to the middle of the pack and his 2020 defense was the best Sooners defense statistically since the 2015 team, but Grinch wasn't able to get the defense to the same level the offense had. 

Schematically the defense Grinch employed was a bend but don't break flavor of not beating yourself eliminating what downsides you may have personnel wise but can be limiting to the upside because you don't allow your high end defensive talent flourish or take chances that could be a difference maker. 

Venables was blessed with first round NFL draft talent on the defensive line where his defense is predicated from. This season, the EDGE rushers who are the highest recruits players from the Riley era, are struggling recognizing motions from the offense and struggling to set the edge and getting pressure. 

Most prognosticators feel this position group who might be the highest rated recruits might be the most underdeveloped and haven't shown the progress through the 2022 season to say they are the solutions. 


OU head coach Brent Venables walks off the field after an 38-35 loss to Baylor last week in Norman.

OU head coach Brent Venables walks off the field after an 38-35 loss to Baylor last week in Norman.

With the Sooners having their worst season since the John Blake days, some Sooners fans are wondering if Venables was the right man for the job. 

When you begin to look at the situation Venables walked into, the quarterback play is no where even remotely close to the situation Riley enjoyed.

The bright spots on offense this season have been running back Eric Gray and wide receiver Marvin Mims who have played at an all conference level. 

The defense Venables inherited is no where near the talent he enjoyed at Clemson and quite frankly I don't feel any of Oklahoma's starters would make the two-deep on Clemson's defense that Venables helped curate, where most feel each unit is in the Top 10 nationally. 

It is a unique rebuild in Norman for Venables, it isn't one that is from the ground up, but it is one that is building a new culture, instilling a new system, and getting the right athletes in the right positions, especially at quarterback and on the defense. 

While it is shocking to see Oklahoma falter, it shouldn't be a surprise. The more you peel back the layers of dysfunction Lincoln Riley left in Norman for Venables, we shouldn't be surprised at the regression of the Sooners.

I feel it is premature to say Venables is not the right man for the job considering what he inherited in Norman, he does have a foundation to build off of, but he will need to identify and bring in the right athletes at the key positions. This current recruiting class, Venables has nine recruits rated at the Top 15 in their respective positions including quarterback and the EDGE. 

As Oklahoma prepares to enter the SEC, the competition will intensify as it enters a conference where it sends up to five times more talent to the NFL on an annual basis, and the SEC will want to showcase Oklahoma against its premier programs in Alabama, LSU, Georgia, and Tennessee. 

The time Venables will be afforded to prove himself has been intensified because of the 5-5 record, add in joining the SEC in 2025, his 2023 and 2024 seasons have now added pressure and the time is ticking to get the Sooners booming again.