The Norman Transcript

Sports

January 4, 2013

Commentary: One more shot at redemption for Stoops, defense

NORMAN — One of the most poignant moments of the past football season remains Oklahoma’s local media day, when Mike Stoops stood at the lectern and talked about proving himself all over again.

“It’s redemption time,” he said.

As head coach at Arizona, he’d been thrashed by so many offenses he didn’t make it through the 2011 season. The defense he inherited only arguably made it through last season, embarrassed at Baylor and Oklahoma State when championships remained available.

“You’ve got to respond,” Stoops said. “(If we don’t) then our issues are deeper than what I thought they would be. That’s what I think about it. You’ve got to take it personal.”

It’s always interesting how an old narrative fares against a new reality. Because held to his preseason words, what are we to make of Mike Stoops’ defense, a unit that allowed 252 yards on the ground to Baylor, an opponent record 778 yards of total offense (and 458 on the ground) at West Virginia and 490 (and 201 on the ground) to Oklahoma State?

That the Sooners won all three of those games says many good things about them, but not a whole lot of good things about Stoops’ defense.

But the Sooners did win. And before Baylor arrived at Owen Field, they were even playing fine defense.

Underreported from the Kansas State loss was pretty good defense from OU for four quarters. Forgotten from the Notre Dame loss was the fact 17 of the Irish’s 30 points were scored in the last 5:05. That’s a bad 5:05, but had the Sooner offense driven the ball when it had the chance, it would have done a world of good for the Sooner defense. And in victories over UTEP, Florida A&M, Texas Tech, Kansas and Iowa State, nobody was sounding big alarm bells about OU’s defense.

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