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Berry Tramel

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Oklahoma football: Mike Stoops loves his defense

by Berry Tramel Modified: March 31, 2014 at 12:35 pm •  Published: March 31, 2014
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University of Oklahoma Sooners (OU) football Associate Head Coach Mike Stoops talks about  the 2014 recruiting class in the Adrian Peterson Meeting Room at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium in Norman, Okla., on Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014. Photo by Steve Sisney, The Oklahoman
University of Oklahoma Sooners (OU) football Associate Head Coach Mike Stoops talks about the 2014 recruiting class in the Adrian Peterson Meeting Room at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium in Norman, Okla., on Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014. Photo by Steve Sisney, The Oklahoman

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.

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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