The Norman Transcript

Sports

March 29, 2013

For now, Sooners content to stick with four down linemen

NORMAN — All that talk about Oklahoma switching to a 3-4 defensive alignment appears to be on hold.

“We’ve been playing a lot of 4-3,” OU defensive tackle Jordan Phillips said Wednesday. “We thought we were going to play 3-4, but we stayed with the 4-3.”

There was a lot of talk about switching after signing day. OU coach Bob Stoops said before spring practice that OU would experiment with multiple fronts in the spring.

Over the last few seasons, the Sooners have used three-man defensive lines on several occasions. In 2010 and 2011, they switched to almost exclusively against spread offenses. The move seemed more likely, considering OU’s depth issues at defensive tackle.

However, it’s not a move OU is ready to make.

“We want to be a four-down (front); that’s who we are,” defensive tackles coach Jerry Montgomery said.

One thing the Sooners have done to help out the defensive tackle spot is move Chuka Ndulue to tackle after spending the last two seasons at end.

“I like it. I like hitting people. Getting inside, the point of contact is a lot quicker,” Ndulue said. “Converting inside, I’m a little quicker, so I kind of enjoy that, too. I’ve got two things to hit them with while I’m in there, so it’s fun.”

Secondary help: Assistant coach Bobby Jack Wright is handling the cornerbacks after coaching the defensive ends for the previous seven seasons.

Defensive coordinator Mike Stoops, who now just handles the safeties as a position coach, believes being able to split up the secondary will help him as a coordinator.

“Well it helps me a great deal. Able to save a lot of time,” he said. “Bobby and I have been together, and he’s coached the secondary, so he knows exactly from a schematic, strategic position what we’re trying to do and understands it very well. It’s really helped. The continuity of our group is very good and able to split up with him. We’re able to cover a lot more with our players, able to cover a lot more ground, I am with the safeties and him with the corners. It just saves us a lot of time, too. It’s beneficial for the players.”

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