Mike Stoops is excited about his defense. I hope that came through in my Monday column, which you can read here. I wrote about the conflicting concepts that Sooner optimism is high, but Sooner star power is low.
When I first trotted out that theory to Mike Stoops, he didn’t buy it at first.
“My opinion may differ,” Stoops said. “I don’t think there’s more of an impact player than Eric Striker on the field in this league, do you?
“Charles Tapper. There’s not a better d-lineman. He’s one of the best defensive linemen in the conference. Jordan Phillips is the best, when he’s healthy, the best nose guard. Those are three guys that are true first-team all-conference players.
“Dominique Alexander’s a freshman all-American.”
Stoops is right. Very promising players. Players that have produced. Just not for long.
“Those are four of the most talented defensive players in the league,” Stoops said. “Four that, ‘this guy will be an all-American.’ We’re talking first-round draft pick guys if they continue the course they’re going. It’s younger, it’s different. Styles are different.”
I asked Stoops about his defensive backs. Those four players – Striker, Tapper, Phillips and Alexander – are linemen and/or linebackers.
“We need to improve our skill guys,” Stoops said. “That’s why Steven (Parker, recruit from Jenks) was so critical. He’s such a good athlete. Like Quentin Hayes. People don’t realize his cover ability. He’s one of the best covers. He was a young player a year ago. He’s got a chance to be a dominating player. He’s one of our most improved players.”
Seems clear that Stoops is excited about his defense. Which better explains the Sooner optimism. Not for what these players have done, but what they could do.