Unfortunately for fans of the Oklahoma Sooners, their team’s defense is looking a a bit underwhelming as we project out to this upcoming season. It’s definitely a major concern, seeing how the Big 12 is the best offensive league in the country.
The Sooners are only returning one starter in their secondary, cornerback Aaron Colvin. This alone is enough to make opposing teams lick their chops, but there’s even more. The linebackers and defensive line are incredibly young, especially due to the early departure of linebacker Tom Wort.
The lack of depth at linebacker will really hurt OU this season, as Bob Stoops came out earlier this week and said they would be dabbling in the 3-4 this season. While they won’t be exclusively switching schemes, even putting four linebackers on the field, when you’re thin and young at that position could really expose a defense. This decision to add a 3-4 scheme hurts the Sooners in two ways.
First, against the run, linebackers that cannot fill a hole on the line and put a hat on the ball carrier are almost completely worthless. With only three defensive linemen, you have at least one linebacker rushing on every play. If they can’t get to the quarterback, you’ve got three linebackers covering the field. On obvious running downs, two or more linebackers will need to fill the gaps, and if they’re incapable of shutting down the runner at the line, he’s going to gain big chunks of yards.
Another disadvantage is when a linebacker can’t get into coverage, or doesn’t know his assignment. That’s when a five yard slant, or a drag route, turns into a first down and more. It’s things like that that can really open up an offense.
These defensive weaknesses put a lot of pressure on the offense, and when you’re breaking in a new quarterback, it starts to look like a recipe for disaster.