Oklahoma football: The Sooners’ defense must iimprove greatly, and fast

MORGANTOWN, WV - NOVEMBER 19: Neville Gallimore #90 of the Oklahoma Sooners sacks Skyler Howard #3 of the West Virginia Mountaineers in the second half on November 19, 2016 at Mountaineer Field in Morgantown, West Virginia. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
MORGANTOWN, WV - NOVEMBER 19: Neville Gallimore #90 of the Oklahoma Sooners sacks Skyler Howard #3 of the West Virginia Mountaineers in the second half on November 19, 2016 at Mountaineer Field in Morgantown, West Virginia. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images) /

Last Saturday’s Oklahoma football game between the No. 6 Sooners and the 3-8 Kansas Jayhawks on Senior Night at Memorial Stadium should not have been close.

But it was.

The Sooners defense should not have allowed 524 yards to the Jayhawks, a team that has only put up a high of 368 yards against the other conference opponents they had faced entering the game.

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But they did.

The Sooners defense should not have allowed the Kansas running backs to get 9.7 yards per carry.

But they did.

If you look at the game without crimson-colored glasses, and expect the very best from one of the top college football programs of all time, then I think you can agree that something is wrong with the OU defense.

I have the upmost respect for Ruffin McNeil, Kerry Cooks, and the rest of the coaching staff and what they have been able to accomplish in their respective careers. I also have that same respect for all the players that are giving their best every snap in practice and games.

But at some point, we all have to take a step back and think to ourselves, “Is this really acceptable?” “Is it acceptable that quite literally every opposing quarterback that we face has his career-best game against us?” “Is it acceptable that we can’t ever seem to win a jump ball between the receiver and cornerback?” Is it acceptable that teams might actually salivate at the prospect of facing a 3rd down against us, because they know that we will have an 8+ yard cushion, giving them those free yards, even if it’s 3rd and 8 or less?” “Is it acceptable that it might be a better idea to risk kicking an onside kick after every score, because that way, at least we’ll have a chance at getting the ball again and avoid sending our defense out there to get burned time and time again on the next drive?”

No one is asking for the defense to force a shutout, or force a turnover on every other drive, or shut down every receiver. In the Big 12 Conference, that’s next to impossible. There is so much talent on the offensive side of the ball up and down the conference, that you’re going to allow big plays and yards every game. What fans that expect the best reasonably expect is to be competitive. Switch up the play calling, bring pressure much more often than what is done, and stop allowing so much cushion between the cornerback and receiver, because almost all of the time, the cornerback gets beat, anyways, so the cushion does not work. If you go back and look at footage on the few times McNeil actually sends pressure, it shows that it pays off. The opposing QB either gets rid of the ball, makes a bad decision by forcing it, or gets sacked. The reason opposing QBs burn the defense time and time again is because there is no pressure and the quarterback has all the time in the world, and if you give any D1 quarterback all the time in the world, every single one will make a play because they’re that talented. What needs to happen is for the defense to a) be more physical at the line of scrimmage and b) send more pressure much more often to force the QB into a mistake.

I know I’m not the defensive coordinator and I make a lot less money than the coaches do. But I’m sure that most Sooners fans would agree with me with at least some of what I said that can be fixed. I know there are some former players that believe fans should not criticize because we can’t do any better. But there are also a lot more that regularly see what is wrong and let their frustrations known on Twitter.

From 2005-2007 OU linebacker Curtis Lofton:


From 2005-2009 OU safety Nic Harris:


Zack Sanchez, OU cornerback from 2012-2015, offered a more optimistic viewpoint, but says the defense still needs work.

These are just some of the tweets and statements former Sooners defenders have publicly said. And these are just from this weekend.

With even just a below average to average defense in last season’s College Football Playoff, the Sooners destroy Georgia and most likely defeat Alabama in the National Championship Game. With a below average to average defense this season, the Sooners beat Texas, are still undefeated right now, and probably win next week against West Virginia and possibly repeat as National Champions. With two of the greatest college football quarterbacks in history back to back, the Sooners will likely have no national titles to show for it because the defenses have been so bad. With the greatest offenses in college football history, they will also have nothing to show for it except a few Big 12 Titles, because the defenses have been so bad.

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The Oklahoma defense has been historically known for hard-hitting, All-American producing, top notch football that helped win seven national titles in the school’s history, especially the most recent in 2000. But lately, even the past few years, the defense has taken a big step back. Part of it is the game changing to more Air Raid-type offenses, but part of it has to be something that needs to be addressed. Before Oklahoma becomes the next Texas Tech, Oregon, Oklahoma State, and plenty of other programs. Flashy offenses with 0 National Titles to show for it.