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Sooners using new defensive schemes to confuse opposing offensive linemen

BY MIKE BALDWIN, Staff Writer, mbaldwin@opubco.com Published: October 13, 2011

Oklahoma defensive coordinator Brent Venables unveiled a new wrinkle to the gameplan last week, playing three, sometimes four, defensive ends.

Texas' slower offensive linemen were overwhelmed.

Moving Frank Alexander and David King to defensive tackle on passing downs, the Sooners used special blitzes to create confusion, which helped the Sooners compile a school-record eight sacks.

The strategy isn't a new concept. Football coaches have used it for years to confuse offensive linemen.

As soon as the ball is snapped, Alexander and King, lined up in the middle, instead of charging straight ahead, ran wide around ends R.J. Washington and Ronnell Lewis, who filled the inside gaps.

“It was very effective,” said coach Bob Stoops. “You get David and Frank coming around the corner ... you're not worried about a quarterback breaking contain. They're going to be able to close on him.”

Stoops mentioned to Venables two weeks ago to consider using Alexander and King at nose guard in OU's version of a 3-4 defense — three defensive linemen and four linebackers.

Venables expanded the package. On occasion against Texas, the Sooners lined up in their base 4-3 defense, using four defensive ends, Alexander and King playing inside.

“The have the size to do it,” Venables said. “If they were 250 they can't do it. But they're both 275-plus. In throwing situations they can more than handle themselves inside. It just helps them get there a half a step sooner than the other guys.”

Weighing 285, King likes mixing it up in the trenches and is willing to do anything to get on the field since he backs up two of the most talented defensive ends in the Big 12.

“I've been very vocal to the coaches I'd love to play some inside,” King said. “At the end of last year I was playing some inside. It helps us get more speed out there pass rushing. If they need me to play some D-tackle, I wouldn't blink twice.”

Stoops said he considers King “a starter” even though Alexander and Lewis are listed as the defensive end starters on the Sooners' depth chart. OU's fourth defensive end, R.J. Washington, would start for a lot of teams.

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