NORMAN — Mike Stoops admits being embarrassed by the way Oklahoma’s defense performed over the final few games of his first season back as defensive coordinator.
“Certainly, you always take it personal,” Stoops said. “I don’t think there’s a coach that doesn’t take each particular game very personal. A lot of it was schematic. Some of it was personnel. Some it was coaching as well. You’ve gotta look yourself in the mirror and try to get your players in a better position, and that’s what we were able to do from one year to the next.”
There’s no doubt about that. For all the hype surrounding Trevor Knight and the Oklahoma offense entering 2014, there has been no greater transformation for the Sooners than the one made by Stoops and his defense.
The entire unit is in an entirely different place than it was last spring. Stoops spent the 2013 offseason installing a new scheme while licking the wounds left by Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel and West Virginia’s Tavon Austin, both of whom humiliated the Sooner defense late in the 2012 season.
“We had to reestablish ourselves as a defensive football team,” Stoops said. “Obviously the year before was disappointing in a lot of ways for all of us. Schematically it wasn’t what it needed to be, and certainly our execution wasn’t what we needed to be.”
Austin rushed for a stunning 345 yards in the Sooners’ 50-49 shootout victory on Nov. 17, 2012. Then less than two months later, Manziel made OU’s defense look foolish throughout a 41-13 Cotton Bowl rout.
All told, the Sooner defense surrendered 2,675 yards and 189 points over the five-game stretch that ended the 2012 season.