NORMAN — The defensive turnaround Oklahoma has experienced has been remarkable. After eight games, points and yards per games have shrunk from the 2011 season.
Nonetheless, the true impact of the changes defensive Mike Stoops has made will either be confirmed or denied over the rest of November, starting with Saturday’s game against Baylor at Owen Field.
It’s the first of three in a row against prolific offenses (the Bears, West Virginia and Oklahoma State) that spread the field and rack up yards and points.
When people talk about the lack of defense in the Big 12, it’s these teams — along with the Sooners and Texas Tech — that have caused the offensive numbers to explode over the last decade.
OU, however, has made lengthy defensive strides this season. The schemes have been changed under defensive coordinator Mike Stoops, but it’s nothing revolutionary.
“Any system you put in place has to be as player-friendly and adjustable as it can be,” he said. “The system is more adjustable to personnel; it’s adjustable to schemes; it takes a lot of the alignment concerns out of the way, and that was the concern with Baylor. Their tempo is faster than any team we’ve played thus far. This system will at least help us get lined up. That’s only half the battle with these guys. Then we have to chase them all over the field.”
Where the Sooners’ true improvement has come is in the chase. Through the first eight games, they’ve just allowed three passing touchdowns. With the defensive starters on the field, that number shrinks to 10 overall and only two came on plays of 20 yards or more.
“I think that’s probably the thing I’m most proud of,” Stoops said. “Overall, we haven’t given up a ton of big plays. I think that was the frustrating part of what we did a year ago.”