But as we’ve seen so many times, one star cannot make a team. Ferguson doesn’t contribute on vault, and that piece could turn out to be a problem for Oklahoma, with three or four routines to replace from a lineup last year that wasn’t going to compete with UCLA, Alabama, or Florida anyway. One of the major concerns on vault is the frequency of Yurchenko halfs we’ve seen from this team. While the blind landing makes it difficult (and difficult to score well), it’s still considered a bit of a soft 10, and it doesn’t necessarily stack up against schools that are performing one or more Yurchenko 1.5s. If you’ve just watched a Yurchenko 1.5 from Kytra Hunter, Georgia Dabritz, or Kayla Williams (or seen something from Zamarripa’s stable of phenomenal vaults), you’re not going to be that impressed by Madison Mooring’s Yurchenko half, even if it’s clean. Oklahoma’s vaults could give them too many 9.825s in that lineup.
Interestingly enough, even though Kelley was the anchor, beam still looks to be Oklahoma’s strongest event in 2012. They were far and away the best beam team in 2011, and that was just as much due to confident performances from Ferguson and the rest of the lineup (Nowak, Spears, Mooring, and Ratcliff) as it was to Kelley’s scoring. Kayla Nowak in particular will be necessary as a solid early lineup gymnast on that event to give the team that base 9.800-9.850 (in addition to her anchor position on floor).
Oklahoma is a bit lucky in that they did not lose any hugely influential seniors after last year, so they did not enter this season with too many holes that the freshmen were expected to fill aside from solidifying that vault lineup. That means that if they can find the routines (likely a combination of gymnasts rather than a single star) to account for Kelley’s scores, they may be able to keep pace with the scoring potential from last year. This will likely come from some lineup experimentation, meaning that the notable freshmen, Rebecca Clark and Erica Brewer, will be given a prime opportunity to prove their worth to the team.
It’s certainly going to be a challenge for Oklahoma in 2012. The injury to Kelley has put them in the same position as teams like Michigan, who have to focus on replacing lost scores instead of gaining new, better ones. Oklahoma does have significantly more depth than Michigan, which should help them have a much stronger result in 2012, but they will have to get ideal performances from all their remaining gymnasts. Even if that happens, without enough significant names of note, it will be extremely difficult for them to crack the top 3. While things can always change, it seems that those top 3 teams are just too deep and talented. One of the most interesting storylines for 2012, though, could be the fight for that 4th place, and Oklahoma is still right in that race.