NORMAN — New Oklahoma assistant football coaches Jerry Montgomery and Bill Bedenbaugh inherit position groups with sharply contrasting outlooks for 2013.
OU coach Bob Stoops announced Tuesday that Montgomery will lead the Sooner defensive line, which was nearly an all-senior group in 2012 and will probably see its role significantly changed when spring practices begin next week.
“In anything you do defensively, it starts up front,” Montgomery said Tuesday in an interview with Sooner Sports TV. “If you can get your guys to play up front at a high level, which I plan to do and have done … those guys up front, if you can get them going, we're going to be OK.”
Montgomery spent the past two seasons coaching Michigan's defensive line. Before that, he coached Wyoming's defensive linemen for two seasons.
“I have closely followed Jerry's progress as he has ascended through the coaching ranks,” Stoops said in a Tuesday statement. “I have been impressed by his ability to recruit some of the nation's top student-athletes and then develop their skills once they arrive on campus.”
Last week, Bedenbaugh took over the OU offensive line, which returns nearly all of its starters and key reserves from last season.
By contrast, the Oklahoma defensive line lost seniors David King, Stacy McGee, Casey Walker and R.J. Washington. The only returner in 2013 with any significant experience is junior defensive end Chuka Ndulue; however, in the Sooners' expected shift to a 3-4 defensive scheme, he might play more of an outside linebacker role.
Defensive coordinator Mike Stoops denied on signing day that coaches had decided to make the change to a 3-4 system, but several signees have said they've been told the switch is imminent.
Such schemes require bigger defensive linemen across the board, meaning traditional defensive ends likely become outside linebackers.