Norman - A new year brings new opportunities, and for OU redshirt sophomore Mark Andrews, a new year brings an expanded role in the Sooners’ offense.

After totaling 19 catches for 318 yards in his first year as a starter, Andrews himself admits he’ll have a bigger impact from the tight end position this fall.

“It’s going to be a bigger role for me,” Andrews said on Monday. “It’s not just going to be in redzone type things or special plays, just being and every down type of guy, being able to stay in there, be versatile and try to make plays on regular downs.”

For most of last season Andrews was a reliable pass catcher for quarterback Baker Mayfield, and earned his trust to the tune of scoring seven touchdowns, which ranked second on the team behind only Sterling Shepard.

But with Shepard now gone and playing for the New York Giants, Andrews is confident his number will be called upon more often.

“I can definitely see from practice, the reps I’m getting, the sort of plays I’m in, so there’s definitely a difference between last year to this year in what they’re saying and what I’m doing, so there will be a bigger role for sure,” Andrew said.

Even though he knows he’ll have to step up, Andrews is very aware he isn’t the only playmaker on OU’s offense, and admits it will be a handful of guys that make up for the absence of Shepard.

“I think everybody does want to be the go-to receiver but at the same time we have to realize the talent we have around us,” Andrews said. “There’s a ton of good playmakers and that’s just a credit to the athletes we have and I think the ball’s going to be spread around pretty well, Baker does a terrific job of not throwing the ball to just one person.”

Not only will the Sooners’ have a plethora of receivers at Mayfield’s disposal, but Oklahoma has a pretty solid set of running backs as well. So not only will the receivers make plays with their hands, but the guys on the outside will need to be consistent blockers for both Both Samaje Perine and Joe Mixon.

“That’s going to be huge for us. Joe Mixon and Samaje back there, two big guys, they’re going to make someone miss on a lot of plays,” Andrews said. “For us to be able to get downfield and block is going to open up more lanes for those guys.

“It’s a huge part of our offense, these coaches can’t stress it enough on us, and they’ve done a great job, all the receivers want to block just because we know Samaje and Joe are going to make some plays.”

Along with great players, the Sooners’ offense also has the benefit of playing in Lincoln Riley’s system for the second straight season, and Andrews thinks the familiarity will pay off.

“As a whole I think we’re more confident because we’re not having to install new plays and new schemes, we’re probably going to get the ball rolling on it,” Andrews said. “I think as a whole group, as an offense, we’re all a ton more confident.”

It will be crucial that Oklahoma brings that confidence down to Houston on Saturday, when they open the season with a tough test against the No. 15 Cougars. It may not be the typical opener for the Sooners, but Andrews thinks a better opponent to start the season will pay off in the long run.

“This is my second season starting but the preparation that we had this summer was pretty intense, and I think that will overall help us start the season strong and be ready to play because we have to be so ready for the Houston game because they’re going to be a good team,” he said. “I think it will be beneficial for us for sure.”