A tale of two defenses: OU needs to run a better defense
BY ERIC BAILEY World Sports Writer
Tuesday, November 20, 2012
11/20/12 at 9:14 AM
Related Story: John Klein: Improved Oklahoma State defense deserves credit for turnaround
NORMAN - Mike Stoops bravely took the steps from the Oklahoma practice field to the media podium on Monday night.
The first question was easily predictable: What happened on Saturday night, when the Sooners gave up a school-record 778 yards in a 50-49 come-from-behind victory at West Virginia?
The Oklahoma defensive coordinator, very candid during the 12-minute interview, admitted what everyone already knew.
"We got run over pretty good," said Stoops, who added he still hadn't looked at the final statistics. "That was the perfect storm. We just didn't have any answers. Very frustrating. Very disappointing. But that's football in this league.
"Give West Virginia a lot of credit. I thought they were very creative."
OU's coaching staff - starting with head coach Bob Stoops during his noon press conference - shared the blame. No one pointed fingers at players.
"We definitely need to make some adjustments and that's part of it for us, what we're asking our guys to do," Bob Stoops said. "Some are technique issues, that kind of thing. We've got to do a better job. But also give (Tavon Austin) credit for making people miss them, getting some extra yards out of plays by getting people to miss him.
"He did an excellent job. Again, I feel like we could tackle better in some instances."
The Sooners are finishing off a "murderer's row" of offenses in three straight weeks. Baylor (No. 2 nationally in total offense), West Virginia (No. 9) and, on Saturday, Oklahoma State (No. 3).
Baylor and West Virginia combined for 710 rushing yards and an average of 41.5 points against OU.
What kind of adjustments will need to be made? Bob Stoops wouldn't be specific, but said, "I think we've had a little too much faith with some of our base structure that we played. We'll make some changes."
The Mountaineers averaged a jaw-dropping 9.5 yards per snap against Oklahoma. Bob Stoops said the Sooners missed 20 tackles during the game. The instigator of many of the whiffs? Austin, a wide receiver who moonlighted as a running back.
"When you break it down, (Austin) has 21 carries for (344) yards. The other guys have (26) carries for (114) and they ran the same plays," Bob Stoops said. "In the end, I understand, we definitely need to make some adjustments and that's part of it for us, what we're asking our guys to do."
Stoops was asked how he defines missed tackles.
"It depends on how much space. When you're in position to make the tackle and you don't make it, it's pretty obvious what a missed tackle is," he said. "But, also, we're aware that in some instances, we can do some things better technique-wise in the amount of space we're giving a guy to tackle. Again, it's a little bit of everybody and what we need to make some improvement (in)."
Again, though, 20 missed tackles?
"We haven't had that in a long, long time," Stoops said. "But, again, the interesting part, I don't want to sit here and not give Tavon Austin (credit). Obviously, he'll get his credit, and he should."
Austin had five runs that covered 31 yards or more against OU. ESPN Stats reported that only 22 of Austin's 344 rushing yards came after contact.
Austin was a surprise insertion at running back, which forced OU to try to adjust on the fly. It wasn't a seamless change.
"We tried to make adjustments and bring a safety down and add a guy into the box. We did some structural things that we made calls for that run and played them so poorly ... there were so many mistakes that happened that I wouldn't want to cover them all," Mike Stoops said.
"There was a lot of physical and mental mistakes, a lot of mistakes that were made throughout the course of that game."
Up next is a prolific Oklahoma State offense, which is powered by Joseph Randle, the Big 12 Conference's top rusher at 109 yards per game.
"Our run defense hasn't been as stout as our pass defense and it's something we have to pick up these last two weeks, especially with OSU coming in here on Saturday," defensive end David King said. "(Randle) leads the conference in rushing. We know he's going to come in here and going to be licking his chops after seeing how poorly we performed at West Virginia on Saturday."
King said the coaches told the team a better game plan will be provided this week.
"We're going to put the faith in the coaches to have the game plan and put faith in the players to go out and execute," King said. "We are going to continue to prepare at the level that we have been preparing at throughout the course of the season.
"We're going to come out on Saturday and try to put it all together and just have a dominant performance."
Bedlam football: OU vs. OSU
2:30 p.m. Saturday
Owen Field, Norman
Radio: KMOD fm97.5, KTBZ am1430, KITO fm96.1; KFAQ am1170
Original Print Headline: A tale of two Defenses
Eric Bailey 918-581-8391
Oklahoma defensive coordinator Mike Stoops shouts at Javon Harris and Aaron Colvin during their Sept. 22 loss to Kansas State. MIKE SIMONS / Tulsa World file