Another season is finally upon us. A record hot summer in Oklahoma made this offseason drag for what seemed like ages. We can all take a collective sigh of relief, however, because it’s football time in Oklahoma.
On Saturday, OU will host the Sun Belt’s own Arkansas State. Located in Jonesboro, Arkansas, the Red Wolves are led by a familiar name to Sooner fans, Butch Jones. Jones infamously coached Tennessee when OU came to Knoxville and walked out with one of the more memorable victories in the past ten years.
It’s been anything but easy sledding for Jones at ArkSt, as he is just 5-19 overall. Headed into his third year at the helm, Jones is looking to right the ship and at least compete for a Sun Belt title.
The Red Wolves are no stranger to playing a big opponent. They traveled to Columbus last season and hung with the Buckeyes for a half, which is impressive considering the talent Ohio State displayed last year.
ArkSt will be led by transfer QB JT Shrout. Like the majority of players nowadays, ArkSt is Shrout’s third stop in his career, previously playing at Tennessee and Colorado. The Red Wolves were thrilled to land the services of Shrout, especially with what they have returning at wide out.
Corey Rucker was the Red Wolves leading receiver in 2020 and 2021. He then decided to team up with former Sooner Spencer Rattler at South Carolina last year, before coming back to ArkSt to finish things up. ArkSt also landed Syracuse transfer WR Courtney Jackson. Jackson is a burner and will test the Sooner secondary vertically.
Though it was a weak offensive line for the Red Wolves last season, they return three starters and welcome in two transfers to a group that at bare minimum should be improved. With how much hype the Sooner D-line has circulating this offseason, it will be interesting to see if they are able to dominate in week one.
The defense was the strong suit for ArkSt last year, behind a strong secondary. This is headlined by two tremendous safeties in Trevian Thomas and Eddie Smith. With a host of new receivers for OU in 2023, this will be a fun matchup to see if they are able to create separation against a strong back end.
OU will pay the Red Wolves 1.35M to play on Saturday. It will be an experience their players will never forget, but they still have upset on their mind. Coach Butch Jones has played the spoiler role a few times throughout his coaching tenure, and he would love nothing more than to win the season opener in front of the Sooner faithful.
OU vs Arkansas State will be aired on ESPN at 11am. If you want to listen on the radio, tune into 107.7 The Franchise.
Keep up with the D&R CFB Report all season long for the latest on OU and their opponents.