NORMAN — At Big 12 Media Days, Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops hinted that slowing down his team’s offensive pace could help cure the Sooners’ defensive woes.
Last season, OU gave up more than 424 yards of total offense in four of its last five games, including more than 630 against West Virginia and Texas A&M.
Any indication on whether that’s the case won’t be shown until OU plays its season opener Aug. 31 at Owen Field against Louisiana-Monroe.
Offensive coordinator Josh Heupel made it clear Saturday at OU’s Media Day that he wants the offense to play at as fast of a pace as it can.
Defensive coordinator Mike Stoops said there was no sense agonizing about the speed of the offenses anymore.
“I don’t spend that much time worrying about the pace of the game. It’s just the way football’s played anymore,” he said. “I’m not one of these defensive guys who will get all bent out of shape.”
Those who enjoy the hurry-up offense liken it to fast-break basketball. Others, mainly defensive-minded coaches, don’t believe football was meant to be played that way.
The uptempo offense isn’t going away, but defensive coaches have decided the only people who can slow the game down are the officials.
“I would like to see the referees, you know what I mean, handle the pace of the game,” Mike Stoops said. “When players aren’t set — and you’ve gotta be set a full second before you can move. That to me is the way it should be called. I think they’re moving half the time, they’re not even set for a second. Centers are going down field five yards on run-pass plays. The rules are so skewed toward the offense anymore, it’s very difficult. I don’t think they’re officiating the game the right way, just because of the pace of the game. I don’t think they can keep up with it. I think they need to slow it down so they can do their jobs better. That’s my estimation of what’s happening. There is so much happening so fast; I don’t think they see everything. They can’t.
“It’s hard for me to call a defense set, think about all the adjustments, where we’re supposed to be, that fast. It really is. I mean until you’re in the moment. It’s different. We can talk for a day on all that, those issues. I don’t worry about it. We see it, we practice it. Our kids understand it. It’s different.”
The Big 12 adding an eighth official — with his main duty being to spot the ball — could either quicken the pace or slow it down. It will be up to the officials.
But it’s clear defensive coaches throughout college football are harping on the point. Teams will get an indication how fast officials will let them play this season as crews start working their way through preseason camps this week.
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