OU football: Sooners beat Oklahoma State despite lacking defense
Astrud Reed, The Oklahoma Daily
The fireworks, both figurative and literal, from OU’s 51-48 win against Oklahoma State helped conceal the Sooners’ recent defensive concerns in a cloak of postgame excitement.
For the second week in a row, OU came from behind in the waning seconds to steal a victory from a conference foe, but for the third week in a row, the Sooners defense looked as if it were held together by rubber bands and paper clips.
Take a gander at the box scores from the Sooners’ last three games, and you’ll see some staggering numbers allowed by OU’s defense.
During the last three games, the Sooners have given up nearly 1,700 yards of total offense — an average of 564 yards per game, including a school-record 778 yards allowed against West Virginia. OU is also allowing an average of 44 points per game and over 200 yards rushing.
Compare that to an equally sour stretch last season — 43 points and 561 yards per game in OU’s three losses to Texas Tech, Baylor and Oklahoma State — and one begins to wonder why no one is clamoring for Mike Stoops’ job when “Fire Venables!” was the rallying cry of many fans last season.
The answer: The Sooners keep finding ways to win.
Unlike last year, when OU lost all three of its defensive meltdowns, the Sooners have won all three this year. And despite the horrific statistical performance of the defense during its last three outings, it made the stops when it needed them most.
And although the Sooners have yet to lose due to a defensive breakdown, there’s no question Mike Stoops’ first season back in Norman has been a disappointment. Things were supposed to be different this season, and they were. But fans were expecting a return to form. And they were expecting it to come overnight.
So who is to blame? Stoops? Venables? The other defensive coaches?
None of the above.
Let’s face it: OU isn’t that good defensively. In fact, at most positions, it is downright bad. This year’s Sooner squad just doesn’t have the talent of past teams.
Where are the Tommie Harrises, the Gerald McCoys, the Teddy Lehmans, the Rocky Calmuses? They’re nowhere to be found.
Outside of a solid secondary, this is a middle-of-road defense in a conference known for its less-than-stellar defensive play. The Sooners are lost in a crowd of mediocre defenses.
It all starts up front, and this is the worst front seven Bob Stoops has ever had.
There’s only one player from the defensive line and linebacker units that’s played consistently at a high level — senior defensive lineman David King — and he went down against Oklahoma State with an ankle injury that may keep him out of the season finale against TCU.
So what are the Sooners to do? Scoop up some junior college guys and plug them in right away (the temporary fix) or focus on recruiting and developing raw talent (the long-term solution)?
Probably a little bit of both. But it’s apparent the Sooners have to do something to improve their defense if they want to return to contending for national titles.