The Sports Xchange

NCAAF Team Report - Oklahoma - INSIDE SLANT

After Oklahoma beat Alabama 45-31 in the Sugar Bowl last season, the Sooners enter 2014 with high expectations, including an eye on a spot in the inaugural College Football Playoff.

OU, which hasn't played for a national title since 2008, isn't backing down from those expectations.

"We're not afraid of it at all," quarterback Trevor Knight said. "You've got to have confidence."

Knight is a big reason for that confidence after his standout performance against Alabama.

But Oklahoma's offense lost plenty of playmakers, including its three top running backs and four of its five top receivers.

Junior receiver Sterling Shepard figures to be Knight's favorite target especially early as Shepard moves from inside receiver to play on the outside at least at times this year.

The Sooners do return all but two starters on the defensive side of the ball, including defensive end Charles Tapper and linebacker Eric Striker, who combined for 12 sacks as sophomores.

Oklahoma's schedule appears favorable, with most of its toughest games -- Tennessee (Sept. 13), Kansas State (Oct. 18), Baylor (Nov. 8) and Oklahoma State (Dec. 6) -- in Norman.


NCAAF Team Report - Oklahoma - NOTES, QUOTES

DGB REDEMPTION: The Sooners added a dynamic playmaker late in the summer, though it's one with plenty of baggage.

Dorial Green-Beckham transferred to OU after being dismissed from Missouri's team after Green-Beckham allegedly forced himself into an apartment and pushed a woman down several stairs. Green-Beckham wasn't charged in the incident.

OU coaches took a chance on Green-Beckham after narrowly losing out on bringing him in out of high school when Green-Beckham was the No. 1 player in the 2012 class.

The Sooners are hopeful Green-Beckham will be ruled eligible this season.

FORD TOUGH: Sophomore Keith Ford is the lone running back with any significant game experience who returns.

Ford ran for 134 yards and a touchdown last season but his playing time was limited late in the season by ball-security issues.

"Don't make stupid mistakes," Ford said of his emphasis for improvement this season. "Everybody has seen that you're going to make mistakes. You just have to limit them."