The Oklahoma Sooners struggled defensively down the stretch in 2012 as they struggled to adjust the different spread attacks they came up against. Defensive coordinator Mike Stoops recognized his unit wasn’t as strong as it needs to be for the Sooners to reach their goals in 2013 and is preparing his players to be more aggressive and disruptive next season.
Last season, Oklahoma faced Big 12 opponents who lined up with four wide receivers 70 percent of the time. The Sooners did not come prepared for that kind of attack, and they struggled to slow prolific spread teams down in 2012, giving up 778 yards to the West Virginia Mountaineers and 633 yards to the Texas A&M Aggies in the Cotton Bowl.
Stoops plans to fix that this spring by experimenting with ways to become more versatile, flexible and adaptable in its defense so that will be able to dictate the action on the field rather than sitting back and reacting to what happens. The goal is to create more negative plays and force offenses to react to what Oklahoma is doing defensively, rather than the other way around.
If the Sooners are going to get better defensively, they’ll need to improve in critical situations, like on third downs. Last season, Oklahoma ranked No. 8 in the Big 12, allowing 41.58 percent of opponents third-down attempts to be converted.
They also hope the defensive tweaks will help create more turnovers after forcing just 16 last season (No. 9 in the Big 12) and tackles for loss. They finished last in the conference in 2012 with just 53.
Offenses in the Big 12 have become wide open and designed to attack defensive weak points. Oklahoma wants to became more fluid in their schemes to cover up their weaknesses and adapt to what is coming at them.
Stoops hopes that becoming more aggressive will help them do that and get the Sooners back on top of the Big 12.