You know when your friend makes one of those statements that just make you kind of go, “Well . . . DUH!”
Well, here’s one of those statements for all you readers out there:
The success of the Oklahoma Sooners 2012 season rides completely on the performance of the defense.
See? Told you it was a ‘duh’ statement.
It’s a ‘duh’ statement because everyone in and around the Sooner Nation knows it is true.
The signs were there early on in 2011 that the defense would be the undoing of the Sooners. Broken coverages against Tulsa, poor tackling against Missouri, and a combination of both that resulted in a shocking loss to Texas Tech that ended the Sooners’ 39-game home winning streak.
Blown coverages also led to a loss at Baylor, and a drubbing at the hands of Oklahoma State.
Granted, the offense wasn’t always perfect and blameless, but it was the unit keeping the team afloat. If the offense had struggled like the defense did at times, the Sooners would have been sitting with a much worse record than the 10-3 record they ended up with in 2011.
Now, as the new season approaches, the Sooners are once again reloading for another run at national title number eight. And again, it’s not the offense with question marks, since the Sooners return senior quarterback Landry Jones, and are bringing in a host of talented wide receivers for him to throw to. It’s the defense, primarily the secondary.
New defensive coordinator Mike Stoops is back in Norman for his second rodeo as the head man for the OU defense. Stoops was defensive coordinator from 1999-2003. The last four seasons Stoops was in Norman, the Sooners ranked in the top 10 in defense each season.
Stoops said this past week the young cornerbacks still needed a lot of work before they were ready to go. Senior Demontre Hurst, and juniors Aaron Colvin and Tony Jefferson have their spots locked down pretty handily. Hurst will be at one corner position and Jefferson will be at safety. Colvin, who started at safety last season, could be at safety again, or slide over to the corner position opposite Hurst should the need arise.
The secondary is definitely the main cause of concern in this unit, just like it was by the end of the 2011 season. The Sooners only lost cornerback Jamell Fleming to graduation, but when there were questions surrounding the players who are returning, optimism isn’t the natural reaction.
There are several players who are vying for a starting spot, particularly junior Gabe Lynn and junior college transfer Kass Everett. Junior Joe Powell and senior Lamar Harris are also in the mix at the other cornerback position.
In reality, the Sooners have a lot of talent on the defensive side of the ball. However, the question is if Stoops can whip that talent into production, something that did not happen with former defensive coordinator Brent Venables and former secondary coach Willie Martinez.
The Sooners went through another scrimmage Saturday, and the coaching staff’s reactions coming out of that session will tell a lot as to how the defense is progressing. Fans will be able to see for themselves at the annual spring game on April 14.
However, no one will know for sure the status of the defense until the 2012 season kicks off.
All anyone knows is the pressure is on the defense.