Berry Tramel

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Oklahoma football: Increased speed makes defense better

by Berry Tramel Modified: September 13, 2013 at 10:05 am •  Published: September 13, 2013

Bob Stoops slipped in a nugget of information that everyone sort of let slip. But I think it’s very important and could explain why the Sooners appear to be better on defense this season than a year ago.

Through two games, against Louisiana-Monroe and West Virginia, OU has allowed only one touchdown total, and that on Dreamius Smith’s 75-yard touchdown run.

This despite returning just four starters from the beleaguered defense of last season.

But Stoops said of his defensive backfield, “we’re faster at every position than a year ago, and that matters.”

It sure does. Speed is of the essence in football.

Now, I’m not claiming Louisiana-Monroe and West Virginia are the ultimate tests. But I’m also saying this is not going to be a 2012-type season for Big 12 offenses. The Sooners – and any other credible defense – have a chance to establish some dominance.

So concerning that speed in the secondary, from where does it come?

The Sooners lost Demontre Hurst, Javon Harris and Tony Jefferson. Three good players, in their own right. Jefferson, especially, was a playmaker. Which the Arizona Cardinals have recognized.

But Hurst, Harris and even Jefferson were not at the head of the class athletically.

The Sooners are using Zack Sanchez, Cortez Johnson and Quentin Hayes, with increased roles for Gabe Lynn and Julian Wilson. Lynn has moved to free safety, replacing Harris, and Wilson has moved from dime (sixth DB) to nickel (fifth DB), replacing Lynn. Kass Everett and Trey Franks also have roles in the secondary. And those guys are faster than what OU played with last season.

“Defensively, I was very pleased,” Stoops said of the West Virginia game. “Defense was very fast, assignment wise very sharp.” West Virginia punted seven times and committed four turnovers. “That’s a really good day,” Stoops said.

He used the f-word again. Fast.

Hurst and Harris were solid players. Hurst particularly was a very good corner. But the more speed you get on the field, the more ground you can cover. The more ground you can cover, the more you can supplement the defense elsewhere.

Keep an eye on OU’s defensive speed. It might be the reason the Sooners are better defensively in 2013.


by Berry Tramel
Columnist
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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