NORMAN — Nothing wrong with Oklahoma’s 2017 roster that a spring scrimmage won’t fix.
All the weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth over the profound loss of the Sooner football program’s most prodigious statistical trio ultimately might be much ado about nothing.
OU put its new personnel on display before a crowd of 43,723 on a sunny, windy Saturday at Memorial Stadium, and for all the angst over all-time leading rusher Samaje Perine, all-purpose yardage single-season record-holder Joe Mixon and Biletnikoff Award winner Dede Westbrook, it appears the Sooners will be able to field a team next fall.
And maybe even win a third consecutive Big 12 Conference championship.
No one on this team is going to set school records, but with a stud quarterback and a seasoned offensive line, the Sooners should be able run the football in 2017.
Marcelias Sutton is a quality running back, a jump-cut artist who, at 5-foot-8, stays low and runs with power and shiftiness and determination.
Trey Sermon isn’t gifted with great elusiveness or breakaway speed, but he’s a powerful runner, a one-cut, downhill masher and a good change of pace.
Rodney Anderson still isn’t all the way back from last year’s neck injury (he’s healthy, but still is chasing full fitness) and didn’t do much, but he did return a kickoff 91 yards for a touchdown, albeit against a scout-team coverage team that wasn’t interested in tackling.
The receiver corps seem versatile enough to help offset the departure of the dynamic Westbrook.
Jeff Mead has reliable hands and a catch radius the size of the Texas State Fair, and just enough speed to coast home with a 70-yard touchdown on a deep post. He finished the day with three catches for 111 yards.
Dahu Green needs to keep developing consistent hands but seems to have almost limitless athletic potential.
And junior college transfer Marquise Brown is either a deep ball or a hitch screen away from getting into the end zone.
Mark Andrews and tight end understudy Grant Calcaterra will continue to present matchup problems for defenses in the center of the field.
Now, if the Sooners could just get some consistent starting quarterback play.
That last part, of course, was a joke.
Baker Mayfield’s game in 2017 probably will need to grow along with his supporting cast. That’s a given.
His statistical performance in the Red/White Game wasn’t that great — 11-of-20, 99 yards, one interception; he played five possessions and engineered only one scoring drive (an Austin Seibert field goal) — but Mayfield obviously isn’t anything Sooner fans need to concern themselves with.
Thing is, Mayfield’s backups looked awfully good, or at least prepared if the situation this fall requires a second QB.
Kyler Murray, fresh off a flight from Austin, where he went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts in an OU loss to Texas on Friday night, completed 7-of-10 passes for 120 yards, including the 70-yard TD to Mead. Murray, playing in his second spring game, threw tight, accurate spirals on mostly short passes (and mostly against that fearsome breeze), and also was his usual escapist self as a runner. (He immediately got back on a plane and returned to Austin for Sunday’s series finale.)
And Austin Kendall, in a much more limited role, hit 2-of-4 passes for 47 yards, while true freshman Chris Robison went 3-of-5 for 49 yards.
Bob Stoops said he doesn’t see having to name a No. 2 quarterback until the fall, and even then, given how sharp everyone looked Saturday, it might not be that big a deal.
Meanwhile, the Oklahoma defense looked stout up front, active at linebacker and athletic as ever in the backfield.
Cornerback Parnell Motley intercepted Mayfield on the Sooners’ first drive of the day, and later broke up another deep throw to Brown.
Defensive tackle Neville Gallimore had two sacks of Mayfield (OK, they were more swipes, one-handed touches quickly blown dead to protect the franchise) and a Mayfield throw at the line of scrimmage, and also had a handful of tackles in the trenches.
And linebackers Caleb Kelly and Curtis Bolton flew all over the field ending plays with violent collisions.
Injuries were negligible, and the fall roster will include the likes of fullback Dimitri Flowers, cornerback Jordan Thomas and others, as well as some enticing newcomers.
There are a handful of spring practices remaining, but for Sooner Nation, it’s not too soon to start envisioning what the fall will look like.
Columnist John E. Hoover is co-host of “Further Review with Hoover & Rew” and can be heard every weekday on The Franchise in Tulsa from noon to 3 p.m. with co-host Lauren Rew. In Oklahoma City, catch him Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday mornings at 10:25 and every Friday afternoon at 4:05. Listen at fm107.7 in OKC, fm107.9/am1270 in Tulsa, on The Franchise app, or click the “Listen” tab on The Franchise home page.