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Oklahoma football: Optimism reigns over defense

COMMENTARY — But a warning: The unit could be high risk, high reward again.
by Berry Tramel Published: August 20, 2014

“Overall, we played pretty good,” Striker said. “We made big plays. But the expectations are the same. We want to be a great defense. If we can eliminate teams from scoring, that’s what we want to do.”

More caution: the Sooner defense was fortified down the stretch by the OU offense. Knight was superb against K-State and Alabama, games in which he threw five touchdowns total and completed 72 percent of his passes. And in Bedlam, OU’s kicking game kept the Sooners alive, with two special-teams TDs.

“With the teams we play, you’re going to give up some big plays,” Mike Stoops said. “You have to stay aggressive. Once our offense got going, I thought we were able to keep up. That makes a big difference in how you call the game. Sometimes it gets hard when you’re in tight games, don’t want to take chances.”

Bingo. Look at the Baylor game. The OU defense hung tough for most of the first half, but the offense was awful. The Sooners’ first-half possessions ended with punt, punt, fourth-down stop, field goal, punt, interception. OU still led 5-3 midway through the second quarter and was down just 10-5 until the final minute before halftime before the dam broke and Baylor eventually won 41-12.

So the defense needs a little help from its brothers on the other side of the ball. That help was abundant against Alabama. Mike Stoops could unleash his ballplayers and say sic ‘em. Even then, the Sooners got burned. Without that offensive help, Mike Stoops might have to hold the reins a little on a defense that is the reason for OU optimism.

Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at

by Berry Tramel
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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