In addition to being defensive coordinator, Mike Stoops is the secondary coach. Hurst said the biggest difference is simply the respect players have for him and his accomplishments.
“It's been different, just because it's Mike Stoops,” Hurst said. “He has that credibility; you want to respect him and buy into what he has to bring.
“He's showing us different things to try to get better. We're really going to go out there and try to embrace what he brings.”
Coaches can't work with players during the summer, but Hurst said that, through 7-on-7 drills and focusing on unit solidarity, things are better.
Cornerback Jamell Fleming, the secondary's leader a year ago, is now playing for the Arizona Cardinals. But several experienced players are back, including Aaron Colvin, Javon Harris and Tony Jefferson, who has moved into a more traditional safety role after playing his first two seasons closer to the line of scrimmage.
For Hurst, the offseason has also been about becoming a more vocal leader. He is embracing the role, but also admitted how difficult it's been.
“It's been a challenge for me to get every single person going, telling guys to do right and encouraging them,” Hurst said. “It's been a daily grind for me.
“Jamell wasn't vocal, but he led by example. I embraced that, but I'm also trying to be more vocal.”
In speaking on behalf of his teammates, Hurst seemed at ease. He spoke with candor and confidence, saying the 2012 defense has something to prove.
“I don't want to give up 500 yards a game,” Hurst said. “We know for a fact we're better than that. We can really be good if we play ball, bond together, have fun and just go out there and play Sooner football.”
The guidance of a new defensive coordinator, whose “tenacity” immediately stood out to Hurst, could provide another boost for the unit.
“I know what type of business man he is,” Hurst said. “My first impression was he's not here to play; he's here to get us ready.”