Currently, the Sooner defense is ranked #62 in the nation in average yards given up at 385+ yards/game. This includes games against Missouri (532), Texas Tech (572), Texas A&M (527), and Baylor (617). Teams ahead of them in the rankings include such powerhouses as La. Tech (58), La. Monroe (30), and Kent State (22). Of course, the two best teams in the nation, Alabama and LSU are #1 and #2 in the defensive rankings. I have heard the argument that “if those teams had to play in the Big 12 with spread offenses they wouldn’t be any better.” Hmmm. Is that why Texas is #10 on the list? Apparently they play a little defense (but have no offense).
The problem is varied and I want to list a few of the possibilities here (briefly).
Complacency/Success. How do you question Stoops who has won Seven Big 12 titles and One National title? Sooner fans are you really that spoiled? I'm so tired of people saying Sooner fans are spoiled because we want more. What's wrong with wanting a defense like Bama or LSU? What is wrong with even "expecting" something better than what we have? After all, it wasn’t Sooner fans who started this year talking national title and a push for #8. It was Bob Stoops and Sooner players. We have become victims of our own success. The urgency to fix something is not there because we have already won more consistently over the past 11 years than anyone else in the Big 12. Bob has built up such a resume that he no longer can be questioned. It doesn’t seem that assistant coaches are held accountable for the repeated poor performance of their players.
Recruiting. We primarily recruit offensive players and then convert some of them to defense. Next year's recruiting class is a primary example with 10 of the 14 commits being on the offensive side of the ball. We recruit a ton of WRs and then when some of them don't pan out we make them DBs. How's that working out for us? One would think with Stoop's background in defense that he would be the first to realize that defense indeed does win championships. Maybe we need to consider offering scholarships to guys who can actually “cover” someone.
Players. This relates to the recruiting issue but one has to ask the question if these guys have been oversold or overvalued? Several of them “appear” to be legitimate talents. But several seem to be victimized repeatedly which makes one wonder about their talent or their ability to understand their assignments. Ultimately they are the ones responsible but I tend to place less blame here than some.
Coaching. Bob started off as a DB coach and uhh this seems to be the biggest weakness. Is it his fault? Sometimes our biggest strength can become our biggest weakness. Is it Martinez, the DB coach? His background is in the SEC at Georgia. His resume sounds good but who knows? Is it Brent Venables? There is no doubt about his passion but what about the defensive schemes? I have heard it suggested that we rely so much on our DBs for run support that they lose focus on their primary task, covering receivers. Is the problem partially in our front seven for not being able to stop the run without help from the secondary? Some have suggested that our schemes are just too complicated. At some point someone has to say “this just isn’t working.”
Will there be coaching changes? Doubtful. Stoops has no history of firing assistants. The only way change will happen is if Joe Castiglione or David Boren get involved. The only way that happens is if we have 2 or 3 bad seasons in a row. The program is making too much money to worry too much at this point.
What’s the answer? It seems that Sooner fans will have to just accept something less than national titles. Barring a magical season like 2000 it doesn’t seem that the Sooners are really at the level of competing for national titles.
Why? Because the defense is broke and no one wants to admit it.