2014 Oklahoma Sooners Non-Conference Report Card: The Defense and Special Teams


We evaluated the Oklahoma Sooners offense on Tuesday, and now it’s time to break down the defense and special teams after three games and a quarter of the regular season under their belts.

Let’s take a look at how Mike Stoops and Jay Bouleware’s groups have done so far.

Defensive Line: “A”

The Sooners had dominating defenses when they were winning and contending for National Titles in the early 2000’s. This group’s front seven, arguably is one of the best in the country. And this group is deep.

Charles Tapper, Jordan Phillips, Chuka Nudule, are the starters for this now 3-4 defense. During the Tennessee game, OU’s defense sacked Justin Worley 5 times. They’ve been overly dominate in all three games they’ve been featured in. Playing very well, but during against Tennessee, it was not one of their cleanest performances.

Sometimes being overly aggressive leads to the yellow flag being thrown. That happened several times. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE how aggressive this defensive line is. Just need to remember the fundamentals to keep that flag in that referee’s back pocket.

Linebackers: “A”

Geneo Grissom’s transition to outside linebacker has been nothing short of awesome. You have him, you have Eric Striker, and Dom Alexander.

A lot of fans and the media, thought this group would not be as effective with out Frank Shannon, who has been suspended for the year. Jordan Evans, appears to have filled in nicely. His back up Caleb Gastelum, has played very well. Well enough to earn a scholarship.

This group has created turnovers, and turned them into points. Tackling is solid. The weak point of this group is depth. Staying healthy is imperative. Otherwise, I am going to say this linebacker group could be the best in the country.

Secondary: “B+”

This group has played well. Zack Sanchez has a streak of one interception in five of the last six games, which continued against the Vols.

Julian Wilson, ran back a 100 yard touchdown on an interception thrown by Justin Worley. The safeties have been disruptive on blitz packages. You have to be pretty happy how this group has performed.

My concern is the tackling. The defensive line and linebackers have been tackling well. The secondary’s tackling has been a weak point of this group. There were several instances where Tennessee got first downs because the corners couldn’t bring the receivers down in open space. Clean that up, this secondary group could also be one better groups in the country. It certainly is right there.

Overall Defensive Grade: “A-“

This defense, has the chance to be one of the best defense’s in the history of not only Oklahoma but in all of college football. The Oklahoma defenses of the early 2000’s were stuff of legends. This defense, reminds me so much of those groups. With the return of Mike Stoops, I fully expected the Oklahoma Sooners defense to become like those groups before them. And so far, under Stoops, the defense has dramatically improved each year. I, for one, am glad that the Brent Venables system is no longer used at Oklahoma.

Special Teams-“B+”

Tennessee appeared to slow down the Sooners special teams. Holding Sterling Shepard to -1 yard on returns. Oklahoma, has not had to utilize Jed Barnett much this year. Micheal Hunnicutt, is just automatic. You get him on the field, he’s gonna get you three points. With the exception for the blocked field goal near the end of the Tennessee game.

My only complaint was from that particular game, the punt return protection did not allow for Shepard to run the ball back. Nick Hodgson continues to launch the ball, out of the back the endzone. Clean up the punt return protection, and this group is golden.

The fourth-ranked Oklahoma Sooners has played pretty well so far overall. Certainly a team that can make the playoff, and even possibly win it all. The Sooners have West Virginia, a bye, TCU, and Texas coming up. Game’s that are winnable, but Morgantown, is always a tough place to play.

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