Berry Tramel

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Oklahoma football: Stoops brothers talk defense

by Berry Tramel Published: August 21, 2014
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OU defensive coordinator Mike Stoops chats with safety Ahmad Thomas during the Sooner spring game in April. (Photo by Steve Sisney)
OU defensive coordinator Mike Stoops chats with safety Ahmad Thomas during the Sooner spring game in April. (Photo by Steve Sisney)

For the Thursday Oklahoman, I wrote about the OU defense and its boom-and-bust performance against Alabama in the Sugar Bowl. You can read that column here.

But I had some leftover quotations I didn’t use and were interesting. A sampling:

Bob Stoops: “Potentially, it has a chance to be one of our better defenses, sure. I always feel when your guys up front are really strong that way, it gives you a better chance, and I feel those guys are really special up front. It could be. We’re working towards that.”

Stoops loves his defensive line. The Sooners are so stacked at defensive end/tackle that Geneo Grissom was moved to outside linebacker. I never know what to call the linemen who set up next to the nose guard. In the old days, they were defensive tackles. Lee Roy Selmon was a defensive tackle. Then the NFL began using the Okie defense, and renamed it from a 5-2 to a 3-4. Suddenly, the defensive tackles were defensive ends, even though they were interior linemen. I always thought of defensive ends as the guys on the outside, usually standing up. In a 4-3, they have their hands on the ground, but there are two tackles between them. I find it funny to call a position “end” when there’s just one guy between them.

But I digress. Stoops clearly loves his defensive line.

Bob Stoops on the defense late in the season: “I think it showed the toughness and resilience of the program and the players. What’s maybe a little overlooked is the Kansas State game. They were playing incredibly well. I don’t know, five six games in a row on a winning streak, at their place. And we came together and played a really good football game, in every part of the game, against a good team. I think that win gave us the opportunity to win the next two and the way everybody bounced back and the way we executed in that game.”

Well, that K-State game is when Aaron Lockett kept burning the Sooners deep, and it was a tight fit well into the fourth quarter. The Sooners had to return gimpy-legged Aaron Colvin to the lineup to try to slow Lockett. So I would say winning in Manhattan was a great win but not necessarily a great testament to the OU defense.

Mike Stoops on comparing this defense to some of the great OU defenses in the early Stoops years: “I turned some of those films on, there was (Dan) Cody, Tommie Harris, Jonathan Jackson, Dusty Dvoracek. It was crazy, the guys. Teddy Lehman, Antonio Perkins on the corner … Donte Nicholson playing safety. It was a unique set of guys. I think we’re closer (to that level). I think we’re starting to get younger players with the attitude and the ability to become dynamic players. That group had probably nine guys that played in the NFL, whether it was a year, two, three. So out of this group, there’s a lot of guys that have that type of level of player that can continue to play. Not just good college players.”

Mike Stoops again on the current talent level: “I think we’ve got more guys out of this group that are going to be NFL ready when they leave Oklahoma. I think the talent of this group is probably the best, in three years (with Mike Stoops back as defensive coordinator), without question. You look at Jordan Phillips, you look at (Charles) Tapper, you look at Dominque Alexander, hopefully Zack Sanchez, Q(uentin) Hayes, Julian Wilson, Steven Parker. These are guys that have a unique blend of size, athleticism and speed.  Q. Hayes is a guy I think has great ability, putting it all together. So we’ll see. It’s a group that’s very good when you look at size, speed and athleticism to do a lot of different styles of play. I’m looking forward to it.”

Maybe. I don’t know. I think the Sooners are really good on the line, but they’re thin at linebacker, and I don’t know if there’s a bunch of NFL defensive backs patrolling the secondary. So we’ll see.

Mike Stoops: “They’re easy to coach, too. A guy like (Eric) Striker brings that crazy enthusiasm and excitement. Everytime he comes in the locker room, he’s ready to go. That permeates throughout the whole team. He’s just relentless in his pursuit of playing football. He just loves to play.”

I like Striker. Striker is a difference-maker. Striker is a 2001, 2003 defense kind of guy.

Bob Stoops on how good this defense could be: “We’ve got a chance, but we’ve got to go earn it, perform. Gotta do the preparation. Are guys going to play intelligently, be prepared to do what they need to do? There’s potential there. We haven’t done it yet.”

by Berry Tramel
Columnist
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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