NORMAN — Eric Striker established himself as one of the nation’s elite pass rushers last season, and because of that, Oklahoma coaches are going to have to get creative with how they use Striker in 2014.
“Offenses are always gonna be trying to figure out where he is,” said Corey Peterson, Striker’s position coach at Armwood High in Seffner, Fla.
When news of a potential move to nickelback broke last spring, many wondered why on earth OU would mess with Striker’s role. The answer is twofold: To keep opposing quarterbacks guessing about where he might strike from, and to take advantage of his immense talent.
“He has a lot of strong attributes for a guy that is a little bit between an outside linebacker and a safety,” said OU defensive coordinator Mike Stoops. “There’s not much he can’t do on the football field in those positions.
“Obviously playing deep balls is not what we’re gonna ask him to do, but he’s a Roy Williams type of player around the football.”
OU also expanded senior Geneo Grissom’s role, moving him from defensive end to outside linebacker in an effort to always keep their 11 best players on the field, regardless of what the offense is doing.
Striker’s quick learning and versatility has made that possible.
“I think his knowledge has been the thing I’ve been the most impressed with,” Stoops said. “He can play three or four positions for us, and we’ll use him in a lot of those positions depending on personnel.
“Depending on offensive styles, so we can go big, we can go little. We’re more multiple now and have answers for some questions we probably didn’t have a year ago.”
Striker, on the other hand, has somewhat downplayed his expanded role.
“It’s nothing really new,” Striker said. “I play a little bit of man; that’s the only bit of change.
“Everything else, I’m pretty much doing the same thing that I’ve been doing.”