It’s been a collective effort up front.
“We took it among ourselves to do what we needed to do to stop all the critics and become better as a d-line,” Phillips said.
There have been philosophical changes made this season that have helped. In layman’s terms, the defensive line is no longer being used to occupy blocks. They’re firing off the ball, getting in the backfield and are expected to make plays. That change has created opportunities that didn’t exist in previous years.
Players like the changes. It allows them to make more tackles and create the negative plays the Sooners struggled to fashion last season.
Montgomery also believes the depth he truly needs is developing. Ultimately, it will be the key to the Sooners developing a dominant defensive line.
“There’s competition in the room and I think at the end of the day, when there’s competition, guys are getting better,” he said. “Guys are holding guys accountable because if somebody slips up, the next guy’s in. So, that’s how we talk in my room.”
It’s that kind of accountability the Sooners lacked last season.
The biggest change Montgomery made was the expectations they face on an every-day basis. He’s set an ironclad standard for how his guys would play.
“I don’t wanna ever see them walking on the field, not knocking people back, not making plays, not getting off blocks,” Montgomery said. “If there’s a day that goes by and I don’t hold them accountable for those things, then I’m wrong.”
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