“And next year, we won't have David King,” Stoops said of his best d-lineman. “But that's always going to be the case. Are we the same every year? No. But our defensive line the last two games against two good offensive lines has played really well.”
Everybody's a little bit right. The Sooners — and most everyone else — are softer. This kind of football, with spread formations and men in motion and quarterbacks throwing 50, 60 passes a game, does change the nature of a team.
But can even the SEC stand against the swell? Mike Gundy this week said no, the SEC will move toward the kind of football being played elsewhere.
“In five years, you're going to see the SEC playing offensive football like this league,” Gundy said. “At some point, you line up and say, ‘How in the world are we going to move the ball on these guys?' … get them all spread out and try to hit some lanes.”
Mike Stoops says it goes beyond the SEC. “I actually see it going into the NFL as well,” said OU's defensive coordinator. “Video football is here to stay. The no-huddles, the shotgun stuff, you see it more continuously. They frowned upon it five years ago, but now they see why it's so difficult, because it does stress your defense.”
Mike Stoops elaborated on the technical effects of a spread offense, which is something his brother is not prone to do.
“The game is so much more lateral than it is vertical, especially in the run game,” Mike Stoops said. “It's not going to be as physical.
“Some guys you don't even have to block. Just let 'em run, quarterback keeps the ball, then you've got the quarterback out in space with some guy, and he makes the guy miss. Lot of those guys don't block anybody.”
That's at the core of softness. Run around a defender rather than block him. But that's where we are in 21st century football.
Not that Bob Stoops is giving in.
“Soft teams are teams that don't get off blocks or don't take on blocks or don't block anybody and get pushed around,” Stoops said. “But again, that hasn't happened to us.”
Not much, it hasn't. But if someone's not even trying to block you, how do you get off a block? We'll see some of that Saturday in the Cotton Bowl, where OU-Texas has indeed gone a little soft, a fate that awaits every level of the gridiron.
Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at email@example.com. 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 newsok.com/berrytramel.