IRVING, Texas — Teams don’t wait until after the bowl game to look back on a season. Most of it is done when the regular season ends. The results of that analysis are important.
Oklahoma’s defense went through that internal autopsy before it ever left Norman for Friday’s AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic against Texas A&M.
Specifically, it has to come up with a better formula for stopping the run against spread offenses. The 911 yards it gave up in a three-game span against Oklahoma State, West Virginia and Baylor made the need for some alterations obvious.
“I think we’ve lived and learned from the past games,” OU middle linebacker Tom Wort said. “Some of the running quarterbacks we’ve faced — the quarterback draw especially — have created a huge problem for us. We’ve gone back and made the adjustments that give us the best chance to succeed.”
The Sooners better. As prolific as most of the offenses are in the Big 12 Conference, Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel ran wild throughout the SEC en route to the Heisman Trophy. In terms of having to contain a running quarterback, Friday’s challenge will be the toughest the Big 12 has faced this season.
OU has remained vague on changes they’ve made. Defensive coordinator Mike Stoops likened it to solving riddles that have no answers.
“You take away the pass, you get hurt in the run. You take away the run and you get hurt in the pass. You want it both ways and it’s easy to say, but try to do it,” he said. “Everyone has all the answers, but they don’t understand all the problems. You can always take one thing away. If you try to take both away, that’s where the balance and understanding of weakness and strengths comes in. There’s a lot of stress put on defenses.”