NORMAN — Oklahoma coaches and players largely scoffed Monday at suggestions that any problems on defense — like the 14 fourth-quarter points surrendered in Saturday's loss to Kansas State, or the one takeaway through three games — will require more than minor adjustments here and there.
Defensive coordinator Mike Stoops said overreacting is to be expected from fans and media, adding that it's “what fans do.”
Coach Bob Stoops, when asked why safeties Tony Jefferson and Javon Harris accounted for a combined 26 tackles Saturday, said it was all about the scheme.
“The front seven did pretty well overall,” he said.
But junior middle linebacker Tom Wort was especially critical of himself — a stark change in attitude from three weeks ago — and even went so far as to say the team wasn't physical enough in practice.
“We definitely need to be more physical in practice,” Wort said. “That's one of the differences I've seen this year. We need to be more physical against the scouts.
“We're kinda being nice to those guys. That's something that hasn't been that way since I've been here. I don't know why it's changed, but (Tuesday) we'll turn it up.”
After coming under intense criticism from fans because of his perceived lack of production in the season opener at UTEP, Wort adamantly stood up for himself, saying he did exactly what was asked of him — gap maintenance — and was given a 93 percent grade from coaches.
So how did he grade out this week, with four tackles against the Wildcats?
“Not very good,” Wort admitted.
Through three games, Wort and fellow linebacker Corey Nelson have combined for just 30 stops overall, and three of OU's top-four tacklers are defensive backs.
Mike Stoops said people read too much into numbers like that, calling the linebackers' tackle number “insignificant.”
“You know, it's amazing,” he said. “No one looks at the first three quarters and what you do well. Everyone wants to look at what you do bad in the fourth quarter.