Oklahoma cornerback Zack Sanchez isn’t backing down from the high expectations of the Sooners’ defense this season.
“After the Sugar Bowl, I think they kind of know where we stand,” Sanchez said. “That was a good preview going into this season.
“I think we’re one of the best defenses in the country, if not the best.”
OU returns all but two starters on that side of the ball, though the two losses — cornerback Aaron Colvin and safety Gabe Lynn — are big ones.
Sanchez heaped praise on linebacker Eric Striker and defensive end Charles Tapper.
“When you have the best pass rusher in the nation in Striker and then Tapper is probably the second-best pass rusher in the nation, it makes your job easier,” Sanchez said. “Knowing you’re not going to have to cover somebody for five or six seconds down the field because those guys are going to get to the quarterback.”
KNIGHT NEEDS TO SLIDE
After leaving several starts last year due to injury, Sooners coaches want quarterback Trevor Knight to be smarter about running the football.
“When he’s out on the perimeter, he needs to understand how to protect his body,” co-offensive coordinator Josh Heupel said. “Adding two or three yards to a run that’s picked up the first down and taking the hit isn’t worth him just getting down and avoiding the hit.
“If he can just learn to slide and take care of himself, that’s going to be a key part.”
NEAL DRAWS PRAISE
Junior Durron Neal is the second most experienced wide receiver the Sooners have—excluding Dorial Green-Beckham, whose eligibility is pending.
But Neal has yet to catch a touchdown pass and has just 18 catches for 251 yards over two seasons.
After three practices, coach Bob Stoops is high on Neal.
“Durron Neal is a guy that in the last several days has made a lot of really good plays,” Stoops said. “It’s coming together well where we needed some guys to come through.”
MIKE STOOPS GOES HOARSE
Sooners defensive coordinator Mike Stoops had a rasp in his voice when he spoke at Media Day.
“It’s been a rough couple, three days,” Stoops said at the start.
But it wasn’t anything unusual, the coach known for his animated sideline demeanor said.
“It’s just I’m out of practice,” he said. “It’s been three months. I’m a little rusty. It’s always that way until you come into camp.”