11/24/2012 10:28 AM
Sooners to change defense for OSU?
On paper, trotting out seven defensive backs to stifle explosive passing attacks is a great idea. The Sooners certainly have the personnel to pull it off, but college football games aren't played on paper, and OU should try a different strategy against Oklahoma State on Saturday.
Oklahoma defensive coordinator Mike Stoops opted to stick with a seven-DB base defense against West Virginia last week, a curious decision considering how Baylor torched the Sooners on the ground and up the middle the previous week.
The result was a record-setting day for WVU playmaker Tavon Austin — who slid over from wide receiver to running back and was slowed more by fatigue than OU defenders — and a shootout the Sooners barely survived with a win.
OU fans can only hope Stoops is finished fiddling with the failing defensive formation.
It's no secret Stoops and former Sooner defensive coordinator Brent Venables use different systems. Stoops made several subtle tweaks to OU's system this year, and the results were much improved from last year — except for the last two weeks.
This particular tweak made sense before it was implemented. Baylor has the country's top passing attack, and West Virginia likely would have held that title if it hadn't inexplicably forgotten how to play football for much of the season. (Remember when WVU quarterback Geno Smith threw for 656 yards and eight touchdowns against Baylor?)
Stopping the pass was a priority, and Stoops was willing to sacrifice a few yards on the ground to keep opponents from airing it out — he admitted as much following the Baylor game. But allowing 710 yards on the ground in just two games is not an acceptable sacrifice.
Sure, the Bears and Mountaineers have more daunting offensive attacks than the Sooners' previous opponents, but it's still a mystery why OU stuck with seven DBs after the system was very publicly exploited by the Bears, who averaged 4.9 yards per rush against the Sooners.
Allowing a one-dimensional team to discover its second is one thing; however, Oklahoma cannot afford to give the Cowboys space to run because it's a specialty of theirs.