Oklahoma football: Eric Striker and the OU defense provides plenty of reason for optimism

While rampant optimism flows through Soonerville this spring, as it should, most of it stems from the defense. And players like Eric Striker. The Brothers Stoops are hard-pressed to contain their glee over what their 2014 defense could do.
by Berry Tramel Published: April 12, 2014

“He’s not only a great football player, he has a great feel for the game. That’s what great players do. They have a great feel for the game. He knows when to take his shots. Hopefully they’re calculated. We don’t want to temper his energy and his ability to make big plays.”

This notion that OU is using Striker in pass coverage? That he’s playing some nickel back? Subterfuge. The Sooner staff is just trying to confuse opposing quarterbacks. They want to disguise from where Striker might blitz from his outside linebacker slot.

Striker twice this spring has smiled when asked how much time he’ll spend covering receivers. He knows what we know, and the Stoopses know it, too. Striker needs to be chasing quarterbacks.

“That’s what I do,” Striker said. “Y’all see that. That’s what I do.”

OU coaches have spent several years trying to find a way to pressure the Big 12’s spread-formation quarterbacks. They’re not going to let Striker float too far from that line of scrimmage. OU beat Alabama because the Sooners were able to harass McCarron. Pressuring quarterbacks is vital to the return of stingy defense.

“Strike’s one of those guys, you’re glad he’s on your side,” Knight said. “He’s a force to be reckoned with for sure.”

So cut Knight some slack. He was missing starting offensive tackles Tyrus Thompson and Daryl Williams and receiver Sterling Shepard, all OU tailbacks are greener than Augusta grass and Striker hadn’t played to a crowd in 100 days.

“Our pressure, it’s been hard for people to throw and sit back there,” Mike Stoops said. “Our front’s pretty good, our ability to rush the passer’s better than it’s ever been (in the last three years). This is a good group of defensive players he’s going against.”

Knight needed some time last season to develop. He’s still not experienced. Knight has started and finished only three college games. Despite the Sugar Bowl lightning strike, Knight might need more time to become big-time.

If so, he’s got a defense that can buy that time.

Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at btramel@opubco.com. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.

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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