The Norman Transcript

Sports

November 6, 2013

Tonight is the test for defensive transformation

NORMAN — I never played the game.

Played a lot of other games, yet not the one that gets almost 90,000 to surround Owen Field on fall Saturdays or, tonight, gets about half as many to fill Floyd Casey Stadium. So it’s a bit of a mystery.

Just how, exactly, has Mike Stoops created such a defensive transformation from one season to the next.

Moving from a 4-3 to a 3-4 appears to have created more versatility. Then there’s the simple fact Stoops knows his players and the conference much better two years into his second run as Sooner defensive coordinator. Also, perhaps, some addition by subtraction has taken place.

Though he’s out for the season, Corey Nelson certainly became a leader after the defense shed some dead weight. And, though he’s out for the season, too, Jordan Phillips certainly came up big on the defensive line.

There’s been sleight of hand at work in the secondary, but Zach Sanchez has played well, Aaron Colvin has lived up to the hype and Gabe Lynn has excelled.

Those are a few thoughts and facts, but not much of an explanation. Whatever, Stoops is pushing the right buttons.

A year ago he appeared bewildered, leaping from one fix t the next, which led to West Virginia and Oklahoma State simply torching the Sooners. That OU won those games was almost incidental, for the Sooners were still thoroughly embarrassed.

What a difference a year makes.

It has to be the way Stoops planned it. Though he and his unit came up with a real dud against Texas, the turnaround remains amazing.

The only thing missing is a big performance this evening. Because it is for evenings like this changes were made in the first place.

Revisionist history would have you believe OU played well defensively against Baylor last season. The Sooners prevailed 42-34 and the Bears finished with 424 yards from scrimmage, or almost 300 less than they’re averaging now.

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