Allowing an inordinate number of big plays last season proved to be the Achilles’ heel of the Sooner defense.
During a three-game stretch, which included a loss to Texas, the Sooners allowed 20 plays that consisted of either a run of 15 yards or more or a pass of 25 yards or more.
So far this spring, surrendering big plays continues to be a hindrance for the defense.
"We’re still giving up way too many big plays, and that’s what killed us last year,” said cornerback Dominique Franks
when asked how the defense was progressing this spring. "We have a lot of guys coming back, but at the same time, the guys coming back are the same guys that were giving up the big plays last year.
"Before we can consider ourselves a great defense we’ve got to be able to stop the big plays. We have to be able to make people work for the touchdowns they’re getting.”
Cory Brandon shining
Starting at right tackle at the moment is Cory Brandon
, who thus far has fended off LSU transfer Jarvis Jones
Left guard Brian Simmons
made a point last week of saying how well Brandon is playing this spring, even though Brandon is still learning the position having spent the majority of his career on the other side at left tackle.
"Honestly, (tackle) Trent Williams
and I were talking about this the other day — we’re really impressed with how well Cory Brandon
has come along,” Simmons said. "I’m not saying he wasn’t doing what he needed to do earlier, but it’s like he’s morphed into this guy that’s ready to shine. His footwork has been right, his technique, his confidence, everything – it’s been positive.
"I think he just found his home at right tackle.”
Brown putting in the work
, one of three Big 12 running backs to rush for more than 1,000 yards last season, hasn’t seen much contact this spring at the behest of coach Bob Stoops
, who wants to keep his star runner healthy for the fall.
But that doesn’t mean Brown is taking the spring off.
"Chris has worked extremely hard here in the offseason,” said running backs coach Cale Gundy
. "He stays after every practice, and he does extra workouts with (strength coach Jerry Schmidt
) trying to create a little more explosiveness, a little bit better quickness and the ability to go a bit longer on some runs.
"He’s worked hard on that and he’s shown signs out here. He’s a great player and we know that. But, he’s done a great job.”
DeMarco bulking up
OU’s other star back, DeMarco Murray
, is out completely this spring recovering from a hamstring injury he suffered in the Big 12 Championship.