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October 2, 2013

Retooled Sooner defense showing promising results

NORMAN — There were many changes made to Oklahoma’s defense since the 2012 season ended. The motivating factor was the unit’s inability to match up with the best of the Big 12 Conference’s offenses.

The goals going into 2013 were simple: get more pressure on the quarterback and get more speed on the field.

Through the first four games, the 11th-ranked Sooners appear to have accomplished both.

“We’re getting pressure and last year we weren’t getting good pressure,” safety Gabe Lynn said. “When you get pressure, it changes everything — especially with all the spread teams you play in the Big 12. You have to get pressure. There are also a lot of fast guys out there, so the speed of the defense is helping.”

Both were displayed in last week’s 35-21 victory over Notre Dame. Speedy linebacker Eric Striker blitzed off the edge and forced a wobbly throw from quarterback Tommy Rees. Linebacker Corey Nelson returned it for a touchdown. It was one of the signature plays from that game.

But the defensive

alterations the Sooners made were not specifically meant to combat a team like Notre Dame. Outside of giving up 220 rushing yards, they did remarkable well.

“So far, it has been good,” OU coach Bob Stoops said. “A lot of the changes were primarily because of what we see in our league with the spread out formations. To this point, I’ve liked what I’ve seen. We have more diversity and more speed on the field, more diversity to blitz, pressure and all those things and different ways to cover to the speed that’s all over the field.”

The changes were tailored to what OU will face in the Big 12. A string of eight straight games against conference foes begins at 6 p.m. Saturday when OU (4-0, 1-0 Big 12) faces TCU (2-2, 1-0) at Owen Field.

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