NORMAN — Oklahoma junior Charles Tapper ran a 4.55 in the 40-yard dash this spring, an impressive number for the 6-foot-4, 275-pound defensive lineman.
Asked if losing some hair helped him run faster — a botched styling session last fall cost Tapper his signature dreadlocks — he laughed and responded, “No, I don’t think so. I’m trying to grow it back a little bit. It’s taking quite a long time. I think I’m going a little bald up here.”
Tapper had a breakout season as a sophomore, recording 49 tackles and 5.5 sacks for the Sugar Bowl champion Sooners.
He spoke with reporters Thursday after the Sooners’ final practice before spring break.
Q: What did the win over Alabama in the Sugar Bowl do for you as a defense?
A: It was a good boost coming to the season, but we’re not really going too much off the past. It’s a new season, a new beginning so we’ve gotta keep that same chip on our shoulder that we had all last year and just keep playing football.
Is that a tough balance, because you want to carry the momentum from Alabama, but also don’t want to rest on your laurels too much?
We won the Sugar Bowl, that was a great accomplishment, but we felt like we fell a lot short, because we felt like we should’ve been in the national championship game. We didn’t win the Big 12 Championship, we felt like we should’ve been undefeated. The games we lost, we lost them, teams didn’t just flat us beat us.
How would you characterize the defense’s swagger right now?
We like to get at that quarterback, third down, we know to let the dogs loose. It’s like the cops let pitbulls loose to go get them guys, that’s what Coach (Jerry) Montgomery says: “Be the police dogs; let the dogs loose.”
What do you have to do to take your game to another level?
My technique, putting on some weight and just staying in shape, and just staying in the film room a lot. Understanding the game of football still, and playing technique, listening to Coach Mont. Last year I settled for a lot of bull rushes, so playing the edge and playing that 3-technique and making more plays on the quarterback would be my biggest thing.
Do you think you still have a ways to go?
A long way to go. I still have a long way with technique, like a lot of games, I got a little bit tired and my technique went down the drain, so this year, I’m focused on not getting tired, and if I do get tired, keeping my technique and staying after that quarterback.