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Oklahoma football: Tony Jefferson delivered good news to Jalen Saunders

Oklahoman Published: October 16, 2012

Jalen Saunders thought Tony Jefferson was joking.

They like to joke around, and when the safety jumped on the wide receiver and told him the NCAA cleared him to play for the Sooners, Saunders brushed him off.

“Man, get away from me, Tony,” he said jokingly.

That's when he said he saw coach Bob Stoops waving him from the scout team.

“Then I knew it was something serious,” Saunders said. “It went from a mellow day to real exciting.”

Saunders, who transferred from Fresno State in the offseason, was awaiting NCAA clearance to play for OU. He made his Sooner debut against Texas on Saturday.


Much has been made of Oklahoma's tweaked defensive system under Mike Stoops, who returned as defensive coordinator after seven-plus seasons as Arizona's head coach.

Stoops replaced Brent Venables, who left for Clemson, and made a few subtle changes, one of which was simplifying things.

Senior defensive end R.J. Washington said that he doesn't think much is all that different, but that Stoops does run less defensive calls.

“It's quality over quantity,” he said.

Washington described waiting before each play for Venables' call, which always came in late.

“He didn't want anybody to have any edge on us,” he said, adding that, for the same reason, Stoops' calls come in late, too, but there's less for players to remember.

“You've got two arm bands (with defensive calls written all over them),” Washington said. “You'd be sitting there like, ‘C'mon man; c'mon.'

“The offensive line's lining up; they're already down, and you finally get your call.

“It's hard to explain. In some ways it's simplified, but for a lot of us, we've been around here for a while, so we know what we're supposed to be doing.”

Last weekend, Oklahoma's defense stifled Texas, holding the Longhorns to just two first downs in the whole first half in a 63-21 rout.


The Oklahoman recently featured backup quarterback Blake Bell in its weekly feature "The Man Beneath The Helmet."

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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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