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March 8, 2013

Practice sessions will be testing ground for new defensive tactics

NORMAN — There have been obvious changes since Oklahoma last stepped onto the field. Three new assistant coaches along with a competition between Blake Bell, Kendal Thompson and Trevor Knight for the quarterback job are the evident ones with spring practice set to begin Saturday.

However, it’s on the defensive side of the ball where OU realizes a dramatic leap is needed.

“We’ve got a lot of work to do in trying to re-establish ourselves as one of the top defenses,” OU defensive coordinator Mike Stoops said Thursday. “At times, I thought, last year we played well. But down the stretch, when we really got against some really good offenses, we didn’t play nearly as good as we need to here at Oklahoma. We’re always going to have great expectations for what we expect to do when we step on the field.”

There is a defensive overhaul afoot, although OU coach Bob Stoops didn’t do much to announce what they were. He did say newly hired assistant Jerry Montgomery will be in charge of the defensive line. The ends and the tackles had been broken up into separate meeting rooms since 1999. The hope is this will help create a cohesive defensive front.

As far as reports about OU shifting from a 4-3 alignment to a 3-4 (or 50 front), the spring will serve as an experimental phase.

“It’s something we’ll do some in the spring, but we won’t do it solely,” OU coach Bob Stoops said. “We’ll still be in our four-man front as well and we’ll work some different guys in the rotation there inside. We’ll also experiment because I think it’s a positive to be able to jump into a 50 and do some of that stuff like we had in the past.”

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