NORMAN — I asked Bob Stoops a form of the question I asked several other conference coaches the first day of Big 12 Media Days and, how about that, received a straight answer.
What’s good defense?
Because Oklahoma is rebuilding a defense that wasn’t very good last season and is about to play a team that hardly anybody’s ever heard of, yet is a team that scored almost 34 points and picked up more than 430 yards an outing last season.
The best part about Stoops’ answer was his insistence that it was “simple.”
“Getting off the field, executing and not having mental breakdowns. Make plays you’re in position to make,” he said. “That’s simple. If a guy runs into a hole and you make that play … And the big things, third downs and scoring defense. You have to get your stops.”
In a lot of ways, it was better than anything Mike Gundy or Charlie Weis or Kliff Kingbury said back in Dallas in July, when the Oklahoma State, Kansas and Texas Tech coach, in so many words, basically said a new standard would be required, because shutdown defenses appear to be a thing of the past.
Stoops didn’t make the case for pitching shutouts, yet he came close, because if you can force punts and get off the field, it kind of goes without saying you’re not being scored upon.
It was a strong comment not only in the wake of OU really wanting to do something about a defense that turned more and more porous last season, but in the wake of who’s coming to Owen Field Saturday.
Honestly, it’s a game far better than the pay-per-view-place-on-the-dial it’s been relegated to.
Of course, OU could win by 50. Trevor Knight could be every bit as effective as Sam Bradford was in his debut, when he completed 21 of 23 passes for 363 yards and three scores in a 79-10 victory over North Texas. It could all come together very quickly and a very uncertain season could suddenly appear stunningly solid.