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OU football: Eric Striker might get more opportunities to hunt quarterbacks

The junior linebacker is working at nickelback this spring. Sooners coach Bob Stoops said the move might give Striker more chances to rush the quarterback.
by Jason Kersey Published: March 27, 2014

/articleid/3947727/1/pictures/2386273">Photo - Oklahoma's Eric Striker (19) tackles quarterback Davis Webb (7) during a college football game between the University of Oklahoma Sooners (OU) and the Texas Tech Red Raiders at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium in Norman, Okla., on Saturday, Oct. 26, 2013. Photo by Steve Sisney, The Oklahoman
Oklahoma's Eric Striker (19) tackles quarterback Davis Webb (7) during a college football game between the University of Oklahoma Sooners (OU) and the Texas Tech Red Raiders at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium in Norman, Okla., on Saturday, Oct. 26, 2013. Photo by Steve Sisney, The Oklahoman

Asked about Striker’s expanded role this spring, Bob Stoops denied that there was any substantial change to his responsibilities, expect that he’ll have more chances to rush the passer.

“Eric is 10 times the rusher that Julian Wilson is,” Bob Stoops said. “In our normal yardage, we probably rushed Julian twice as much as we did Eric.

“Now, we get in third down, Eric always rushed. That doesn't have to change. But first and second downs, it can be reversed. That's all we're saying. We're trying to give him more opportunities to do what he does the best.”

Striker’s blitzing played a critical role in two of Oklahoma’s biggest victories last year.

On the third play from scrimmage at Notre Dame, Striker blitzed Irish quarterback Tommy Rees, hit him from behind and forced an errant throw, resulting in an interception that Corey Nelson returned for a touchdown.

Then in the Sooners’ monumental Sugar Bowl upset of Alabama, Striker recorded three of Oklahoma’s seven sacks on McCarron.

Asked Thursday if the position switch is permanent or just experimental, Striker pleaded ignorance.

“Anything can happen,” Striker said. “It could be experiment, could be whatever. You’ll never know until the first game of the season, really, until I guess the fall, two-a-days.

“I don’t know. I honestly don’t know.”

One thing OU coaches know for sure, though, is that Striker will play a vital role on defense next season, regardless of what position he fills.

“There’s nothing the guy can’t do,” Mike Stoops said.

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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