ARLINGTON, Texas —
“We’ve just been kind of a group up front. We haven’t had a Tommie Harris, a Dan Cody-type of player up front,” he said. “It’s probably why we’re not like we were in some of the years we really excelled. Up front is a big part of the game.”
One of the calling cards of OU’s great defenses has been dominant defensive linemen. This season, the Sooners didn’t have a first-team All-Big 12 defensive lineman for the first time since 1999.
What should scare OU fans is that with the exception of Ndulue, the defensive linemen used most of the season were seniors. If OU had better options, they would have been on the field.
OU got away with it in the first half of the season. By November, teams figured out spreading out the Sooners and running the ball was something they couldn’t handle.
“People started picking up on what we were doing. I think one thing was when we first came into the season a lot of people weren’t ready for what we were running,” said safety Javon Harris, who had one of OU’s few Cotton Bowl highlights with a second quarter interception. “We ran a lot man (coverage). A lot of teams just spread us out. When we started facing running quarterbacks, you have to account for them … Once you start spreading out, there’s a lot of gaps open, a lot of lanes open.”
The Sooners have the offseason to try to correct the problem. Perhaps an influx of defensive talent will arrive next month on signing day.
If it doesn’t, OU’s defense will get exposed like it did throughout the final month of the regular season and Friday night.
John ShinnFollow me @firstname.lastname@example.org