NORMAN — Sooners coach Bob Stoops scoffed at the question Monday over whether games like the upcoming one against Baylor were the reason he brought his brother Mike back as defensive coordinator.
“I brought Mike back to coach all games last year, all games the other year, and all games next year,” Stoops said. “Not for any one game.”
Stoops is correct.
But games like next Thursday's in Waco, Texas — against a team that leads the country in total offense by more than 80 yards — are the reason why Oklahoma's defense underwent a makeover in the offseason.
The Sooners went almost exclusively to a three-man front to keep five defensive backs on the field while keeping the linebackers involved in the game.
That wasn't the case last year when linebackers virtually disappeared from the defense as the Sooners struggled to defend the Big 12's — and Texas A&M's — spread offenses late in the season.
Last week, Texas Tech gave OU its first real chance to see how the defense held up against an offense similar to the ones that gave the Sooners fits last year.
The Red Raiders threw for 388 yards on the Sooners but ran for just 72.
“This defense showed what it's really made for,” Sooners safety Gabe Lynn said of the retooled defense's first such test. “We've got some areas we could have done better but for the most part, I felt like we made the plays we needed to make.”
While the styles are similar, though, there's no doubt Baylor presents even more of a challenge.
The passing numbers are similar — Baylor averages less than four yards per game more through the air. The rushing numbers, though, are vastly different.
The Bears are averaging more than 300 rushing yards per game — led by Lache Seastrunk's 124.1 average — to lead the Big 12 and are in the top 10 nationally. Texas Tech, though, is last in the Big 12 in rushing offense.
Baylor will be able to do things offensively that the Sooners haven't seen all year.
“We've got our work to do,” Stoops said, overstating the obvious. “I look at what they've been doing against like opponents, and so it will be challenging.”
The Sooners and Bears have faced three of the same teams thus far — Louisiana-Monroe, West Virginia and Kansas.
Oklahoma won those games by a combined 84-26. Baylor outscored those three teams 202-62, and most of those points allowed came in the 73-42 win over West Virginia.