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Oklahoma football: Is Mike Stoops simplifying the Sooner defense?

There's a mounting belief that Mike Stoops will simplify the Sooner scheme. According to Stoops, “We're simplifying things, but you can only simplify things to a point.”
by Berry Tramel Published: August 19, 2012

NORMAN — Jon Gruden sat with Robert Griffin III during one of Gruden's ESPN quarterback shows last spring, watching Baylor film.

The OU-Baylor game was on the screen. Gruden jumped from his chair, pointed to an uncovered Baylor receiver and talked with incredulity.

“Eight or nine times in this game, they're not lined up” right, Gruden said to Griffin. “Here, they're not even covering this man.”

Gruden said it as a testament to the tempo of the Baylor offense. But anyone who sat through Baylor's 45-38 victory over the Sooners last November knows it also was an indictment of the OU defense.

Now Mike Stoops has returned as the Sooner defensive coordinator, and there's a mounting belief that Stoops will simplify the Sooner scheme.

“We're simplifying things, but you can only simplify things to a point,” Mike Stoops said. “There's a fine line in all that.”

Frankly, the whole thing's confusing. Some Sooners say the scheme hasn't changed a bit. Others say it has.

If complication was the problem, isn't that an indictment of Bob Stoops, too, since he should have recognized it and ordered Brent Venables to change?

“As much as anything, it's trying to make it simpler for our guys to have fewer mental mistakes,” Bob Stoops said. “If we do that, it'll help us.”

Mike Stoops said the other day that the biggest problem with the OU defense last season was asking players to do things they were physically unable to do. Asking Javon Harris to cover a Baylor slot receiver across 40 yards was inviting trouble.

So who knows? The answer almost surely is somewhere in between. The 2011 Sooners had some mental meltdowns but also at times just got beat.

“Well, in the end, it was a little bit of both,” Bob Stoops said. “It always is.”

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by Berry Tramel
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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