NORMAN — Oklahoma’s defense came under fire late last season after giving up eye-popping point and yardage totals in games against Baylor, West Virginia, Oklahoma State and Texas A&M.
So far this season, the Sooner defense looks much improved. Defensive coordinator Mike Stoops has installed a base 3-3-5 scheme, and OU has looked more aggressive than it did last year.
Senior linebacker Corey Nelson said player are “more engaged” this year, and said last year’s struggles were largely a result of leadership.
“I feel like we didn’t have no leadership on defense last year,” Nelson said. “We just didn’t have no guys stepping up and taking control of the defense and grabbing it by the horns.
“We’re all running to the ball. That’s one thing that we did not do last season or maybe even the season before that and if we don’t run to the ball, we get punished for it so that’s one thing that has changed and I see a lot of us doing.”
Nelson leads the team with 20 tackles through three games, and fellow linebacker Frank Shannon is second with 19 stops.
The Sooners have this weekend off before their looming Sept. 28 trip to Notre Dame. The Irish beat OU 30-13 last year in Norman.
“We have to come out there and give it all that we’ve got,” Nelson said. “This will be the biggest game and the most important game of the season thus far. It’ll show what our defense is really made of.”