NORMAN — Mike Stoops’ Oklahoma defense improved dramatically between Years One and Two of his return to Norman, and not just in ways that can be tracked numerically.
OU rediscovered the swagger that made it one of the most daunting defenses in college football at several points throughout the game’s history.
Making that improvement all the more impressive is the fact that at this point a year ago, OU coaches hadn’t even started installing the 3-3-5 scheme that helped make the improvement possible.
“It was a work in progress through the season last year, and it was still good,” OU head coach Bob Stoops said in a recent interview with The Oklahoman.
The Sooners’ 2012 defense looked good throughout much of the early portion of the schedule, but it struggled mightily late against the high-powered spread offenses of Baylor, West Virginia, Oklahoma State and Texas A&M.
During those games, the Sooner coaches used either one or zero linebackers, replacing them with extra defensive backs, in an effort to slow down those potent attacks. What often happened, though, was a complete collapse in run defense. For the season, OU surrendered an average of 192.23 rushing yards per game, ranking 89th in the country in that category.
There were rumors throughout the last offseason that OU coaches were moving toward a 3-4 defense, but that was never installed last spring. When the Sooners played their annual spring game in April 2013, the defense came out with four down linemen.