Mark Stoops learns from loss to OU
BY GUERIN EMIG World Sports Writer
Tuesday, August 16, 2011
8/16/11 at 4:32 AM
Related Story: Practice report: Oklahoma
NORMAN - It took less than five minutes of last year's Oklahoma-Florida State game to realize something: Bob Stoops was teaching his little brother a lesson.
The Sooners opened in the pistol formation. Then they went double-tight end. Then three-wide receiver. Then all three split to one side.
They threw quick-outs, screens, deep sideliners and medium-range shots over the middle.
They motioned their backs, and faked to them to set up play-action. They handed off and ran left and right.
They ravaged Mark Stoops' Seminoles defense over 80 yards for the game's first touchdown, a stunning preview of what was to come over OU's next three drives, which also ended in touchdowns.
Asked last weekend how it felt to suffer like that against his brother, Mark Stoops told FoxSportsFlorida: "No matter who's delivering the butt-kicking, you don't feel real good about it. I was, more than anything, just disappointed."
Big brother Bob didn't feel much better about it, the Stoops family bond tight as it is. At least, for both Stoops' sake, the lesson proved to be as valuable as it was painful.
OU faces a different Florida State defense in the Tallahassee rematch Sept. 17. The Seminoles have grown up in a year's time, a process that began after their 47-17 loss in Norman.
"We were not quite prepared for that test a year ago," said Mark Stoops, now in his second year as FSU defensive coordinator. "We were not quite prepared for that environment and the speed of that game. I think we learned from it and we got better as the year went on."
One week after the OU show, the Seminoles held BYU to 191 yards. They shut out Wake Forest the following Saturday. They held Miami, Florida and four other opponents under 20 points before beating South Carolina 26-17 in the Chick-fil-A Bowl.
Greg Reid and Xavier Rhodes, the same cornerbacks victimized for Landry Jones' 380 yards, combined to successfully defend 33 passes.
The same pass rush that dropped Jones once finished with 48 sacks, tying Boise State for national honors.
The Seminoles weren't impenetrable. They gave up 44 points to Virginia Tech and 37 to North Carolina, and ranked 71st against the pass.
But every defensive number was vastly improved from 2009. Defensive end Brandon Jenkins was an All-American. Rhodes was ACC defensive rookie of the year. Reid was defensive MVP of the Chick-fil-A Bowl.
They're all back. So is linebacker Nigel Bradham, the Seminoles' leading tackler last year. Eight defensive starters return.
"We have so much talent and depth all around," said Nick Moody, the safety whose knockout of Brennan Clay was FSU's lone defensive highlight in Norman.
"Another year in the scheme, we're a year older and a year wiser," cornerback Mike Harris pointed out. "We're more acclimated and reacting faster to different things."
They're playing faster in general.
"Just because of the speed of our defense, we're going to do a lot more blitzing and have a lot more man coverages," said safety Terrance Parks.
They're closer to matching the breakneck pace of an offense like OU's.
They're closer to matching OU's experience.
Which was precisely the idea as the Seminoles lifted their chins from Owen Field last September.
"I still think we can have a good defense," coach Jimbo Fisher said that day. "We've just got a lot of work to do."
It appears Mark Stoops and his players did it, right after absorbing OU's lesson.
"Defensively, that game was definitely a turning point for us," Stoops said. "I believe our guys understood a little bit more clearly exactly how sharp you need to be to win at that level."
7 p.m. Sept. 3
OU radio: KMOD fm97.5, KTBZ am1430
TU radio: KRMG am740, fm102.3
Guerin Emig 918-581-8355