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.
5 thoughts on “The Sooner Defense is Broken”
Great points. I think Sooner fans will have to change their expectations or continue to be let down year after year. I will most likely continue to be let down.
Most colleges would love to be 10-2 every year. After 2000, I don’t think Sooner Nation will ever be happy with any losses. I think I speak with you and for everyone. The major hang up has been and will be the defense. Shines at times, but horrid at times. Poor schemes against teams like Baylor, Tech and Missouri will always haunt the Sooners as long as Venables is the DC. Period.
Great points on the defense. OU should expect more from its players just as every big time program should. The players looked disinterested in the Tech game from kick-off. That goes mainly on the coaching staff but also team leaders. They all need motivate the guys to play better and play smart.
As much as everyone, including yours truly, complains about OU’s defense and how it seemingly has gotten worse over the years, despite high touted defensive players, the offense shares in the blame too. You win and lose as a team. The secondary has given up a lot of big plays over the years, including multiple times against the Bears, but play calling at times has been highly questionable. Whether it was Kevin Wilson calling plays or Josh Heupel, how many times have you looked at OU’s formation and guessed perfectly what OU was going to run? Another thing that has been lacking is the involvement of the tight end more in the passing game. Jermaine Gresham was without question one of best tight ends OU will ever have, but that is an element that seems to be missing lately.
Lastly, OU came into the season over ranked and over rated to begin with. On paper, offensively, they appeared like they would be a juggernaut, led by a QB who would be a Heisman contender. Defensively, they had starters returning and Stoops’s reputation on defense. Sadly this goes to one of the biggest problems with college football. The Pre-Season AP TOP 25 Poll has got to go. Would OU still be number 1 after 5-6 games to give voters a chance to see how good teams really are and not just on paper? They probably would have been, given how they beat a Florida State team (ranked 5th at the time) on the road. But if they had played a .500 team instead of FSU, where would they have been if it had not been for pre-season poll?
The only thing I will say about the offense is they scored 38 in both of their losses. That should be enough every single time. And I think I did notice a little more TE involvement this past week (Hanna 4 – Ratterree 3). But yes, they have not lived up to their hype either. Though I, for one, was led to believe that our defense was going to be the difference this year. Maybe I bought into all that pre-season coverage of the “sharks” and that’s on me.
Just read that this past Saturday was the most yards (616) OU has given up in the history of the program. Previous high: 609 vs. Iowa St. in ’89. Wow. Just wow.
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