DALLAS — The return of Mike Stoops has been met with excitement and expectations of marked improvement for a defense — and, more specifically, a secondary — that collapsed in embarrassing 2011 losses.
If things are better, Stoops will be praised. If they're not, he'll likely be blamed.
But senior cornerback Demontre Hurst said Monday the attitude changed before Stoops arrived back in Norman.
For Hurst, it's the secondary that must improve itself by coming together and focusing to limit the mental mistakes that resulted in big plays and embarrassing losses.
“I feel like we have to bond together and have faith in each other, trust that person that he'll do what he's supposed to do,” Hurst said.
“We can't have mental mistakes. We've been trying to focus, focus, focus. That's the main thing I've been embracing all summer.”
In losses to Texas Tech and Baylor last season, the Sooner secondary surrendered 897 passing yards and eight touchdowns through the air. Players seemed out of position and, sometimes, just confused.
“I was embarrassed,” Hurst said of the secondary in those games. “I know I had a part in that. I think the whole defense was embarrassed.”
Sooners head coach Bob Stoops admits the defense didn't live up to the standards set by his past OU teams.
“In the past couple of years, for whatever reason — and we've really looked at it — our defense hasn't been quite as strong as what we've been used to,” Bob Stoops said. “Hopefully we can make fewer mental mistakes in some areas and be a little sharper in what we're doing to play more consistently and better defense.”
That only makes his reunion with Mike Stoops all the more exciting, considering the defensive prowess displayed when the Stoops brothers roamed the Sooner sideline together from 1999-2003.
Stoops left to become Arizona's head coach, a job he held until he was fired midway through the 2011 season.
“Our track record working together and competing together has been pretty positive,” Bob Stoops said. “I trust Mike's judgment on a lot of issues, and I'm sure it will be positive.”