Mike Stoops: OU defense has 'a lot to work on'
BY ERIC BAILEY World Sports Writer
Sunday, March 10, 2013
3/10/13 at 6:18 AM
NORMAN - Mike Stoops' reunion with the Big 12 Conference wasn't pleasant in 2012.
The Oklahoma defensive coordinator was showered with praise before the season. After a defensively disappointing league finish and Cotton Bowl performance, the coach was in the crosshairs for criticism.
"We got a lot of work to do in trying to reestablish ourselves as one of the top defenses," said Stoops, who led his defense through Saturday's opening spring football practice. "At times, I thought last year we played well. But down the stretch, when we really got against some good offenses, we didn't play nearly as good enough as we need to here at Oklahoma.
"We're always going to have great expectations for what we expect to do when we step on the field. We'll have a lot to work on this spring."
Oklahoma gave up historic amounts of yards as Stoops became acclimated again with the league he coached in between 1999-2003. Opponents averaged 398.3 yards per game in 2012, which is the most ever against the Sooners.
Stoops didn't use his finger, but his thumb when reviewing OU's shortcomings last season.
"We take full responsibility as a staff for not putting our players in better position," Stoops said.
The statistics show that Oklahoma had a good pass defense last season. Where it struggled was at shutting down the run.
OU gave up 200 or more rushing yards in seven games last season, highlighted by West Virginia's 458 yards and Texas A&M's 326 in the Cotton Bowl.
In the Bob Stoops era, the Sooners have only allowed 200 or more rushing yards 17 times in 173 games.
"You have to balance out," Mike Stoops said. "Being No. 1 or No. 2 against pass and giving up only 52 percent completions are good, but we're still not balanced in our defense in what we want to do.
"We have to make adjustments to accommodate the totality of playing sound defense."
How do you fix that? That could mean being more aggressive.
"We have to be able to create more big plays. We have to be able to create more negative-yardage plays. And that's concerning for us when you look a year ago at the amount of big plays we weren't able to ... we didn't give up a ton, but we didn't get a ton either," Mike Stoops said.
"Being able to be in position to be more aggressive defensively I think is what you have to be and not sit back and react to everything, like we did probably a year ago."
While Stoops didn't marry himself to an odd-front, he did admit the plan is for more linebacker play. Last year, Oklahoma showed different alignments with some showing one or even no linebackers on the field.
"I think our scheme did a little bit of an injustice to our linebackers a year ago," the defensive coordinator said. "I sound redundant, but I don't know how else to say it. When you're going against four wideouts 70 percent of the game, that's extraordinary and it limits some of the things these guys can do.
"We're gonna try to keep two linebackers on the field as much as we can in each situation."
Stoops pointed to linebackers Corey Nelson and Frank Shannon.
"Those two guys have to be really big players for us and what we're trying to do," Stoops said.
The defense's leader will be cornerback Aaron Colvin, Stoops said.
"Having him back is critical. Aaron is a very complete player. He has the intensity, the focus and the drive. He's here for a purpose - he wants to be a first-round draft pick. He sets the tone for our whole defense," Stoops said.
There will be shuffling in the secondary. Gabe Lynn will move to free safety while Julian Wilson takes over at nickel. Quentin Hayes will go to strong safety while Cortez Johnson, Zack Sanchez and Kass Everett will get looks at the cornerback position opposite Colvin.
Oklahoma spring football schedule
(All practices closed to public)
March 9, 10, 12, 14, 25, 27, 29
April 2, 5, 6, 7, 9, 11, 16
Spring game: April 13, 2 p.m.
Original Print Headline: OU defense seeks 'balance'
Eric Bailey 918-581-8391