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Oklahoma football: Roy Williams, Dusty Dvoracek pinpoint lack of aggression as part of OU's defensive woes

There are plenty of reasons for the Sooners' defensive struggles — evolving offenses and recruiting busts, to name a few — but lacking aggression is a culprit, too. That's how Roy Williams sees it, anyway.
by Jason Kersey Published: April 6, 2013
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photo - Roy Williams, left, and Rocky Calmus look at Texas A&M's Derek Farmer after Williams left him twisted in a ball during Nov. 11, 2001, in Norman. PHOTO BY DOUG HOKE, THE OKLAHOMAN ARCHIVES
Roy Williams, left, and Rocky Calmus look at Texas A&M's Derek Farmer after Williams left him twisted in a ball during Nov. 11, 2001, in Norman. PHOTO BY DOUG HOKE, THE OKLAHOMAN ARCHIVES

Last November, West Virginia's Tavon Austin rushed for 344 yards and two touchdowns, and caught four passes for 82 yards, against Oklahoma in the Sooners' 50-49 win.

Dvoracek is quick to point out that any defense is susceptible to a bad night. He was on the 2003 Oklahoma team that lost 35-7 to Kansas State in the Big 12 championship game, in which Wildcats' running back Darren Sproles rushed for 235 yards on 22 carries.

“I think Darren Sproles is still running,” Dvoracek quipped.

Even so, Oklahoma's defensive numbers are undeniably down. The 2011 OU defense, led by former coordinator Brent Venables, ranked 79th nationally against the pass.

Last year's unit, in Mike Stoops' first season as coordinator since returning to Norman, ranked 64th in total defense (398.31 yards per game) and 50th in scoring defense (25.46 points per game). OU also recorded just 16 take-aways, the lowest number in that category of the Bob Stoops era.

The 2013 OU defense returns few starters, but Mike Stoops still sees reasons to be optimistic.

“Maybe in the long run it was good,” Mike Stoops said of last season's struggles. “Maybe they exposed some weaknesses in our team and we'll benefit from not being as good as we wanted to be, and in the future we'll be better. I look at it as a positive.”

Williams, who in 2001 won the Nagurski and Jim Thorpe Awards as the nation's top defender and defensive back, respectively, said watching the Sooners the last few seasons “hasn't been pleasant,” and that he hopes the defense's mentality changes soon.

“It was just disappointing ... you can't claim that there's only one OU if you're not playing like it,” Williams said.

A look at OU's defensive stats in the Bob Stoops era

Throughout Oklahoma's impressive football history, tough defense has almost always been a critical piece of its identity.

In recent years, though, the OU defense has struggled, particularly against the Big 12 Conference's high-powered spread offenses.

Here's a look at Oklahoma's team defensive statistics throughout Bob Stoops' 14 seasons as head coach. If available, the Sooners' national ranking in each stat is listed in parentheses.

Season

Record

YPG

RYPG

PYPG

PPG

Turnovers forced

1999

7-5

344.4 (39)

125.2 (37)

219.18 (N/A)

18.4 (16)

23 (N/A)

2000

13-0

278.92 (8)

108.2 (23)

170.75 (9)

16 (7)

33 (T5)

2001

11-2

262.83 (4)

89.9 (7)

172.92 (11)

13.8 (4)

33 (T10)

2002

12-2

293.14 (10)

107.9 (14)

185.29 (25)

15.4 (6)

36 (T7)

2003

12-2

259.64 (3)

113.2 (20)

146.43 (2)

15.3 (5)

34 (8)

2004

12-1

299 (13)

94.6 (6)

204.38 (48)

16.8 (11)

22 (T54)

2005

8-4

306.67 (13)

90.6 (4)

216.08 (56)

23.1 (37)

23 (T44)

2006

11-3

287.14 (16)

98.7 (16)

188.43 (41)

17.3 (19)

32 (T6)

2007

11-3

338.36 (26)

110.29 (17)

228.07 (59)

20.29 (19)

28 (T24)

2008

12-2

359.08 (63)

106 (16)

253.08 (98)

24.54 (58)

34 (T4)

2009

8-5

272.62 (8)

92.92 (8)

179.69 (20)

14.54 (7)

30 (T11)

2010

12-2

361.86 (53)

148.93 (58)

212.93 (51)

21.79 (33)

32 (T8)

2011

10-3

376.15 (55)

134.69 (43)

241.46 (79)

22.08 (31)

27 (T28)

2012

10-3

398.31 (64)

192.23 (89)

206.08 (29)

25.46 (50)

16 (T100)

Note: Through the 2001 season, the NCAA did not count bowl games in team or individual statistics.

by Jason Kersey
OU Sports Reporter
Jason Kersey became The Oklahoman's OU football beat writer in May 2012 after a year covering high school sports and OSU recruiting. Before joining the newspaper in November 2006 as a part-time results clerk, he covered high school football for...
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