Oklahoma defensive coordinator Mike Stoops faced a lot of criticism after the 2017 season, but he thinks the Sooners will improve on defense this year, even if it has nothing to do with him.
Stoops said Thursday that he thinks the Sooners have a chance to be better because they will be more talented on defense this season, according to The Oklahoman’s Berry Tramel. He thinks Oklahoma’s failures last year had less to do with play-calling and more to do with a lack of playmakers on defense.
“Calls are overrated,” Stoops said. “I’ve never made a great call. Players make the plays. It’s amazing when you play well, they think you make great calls. It’s really how you teach it and how you coach it and how the kids play. Gotta get players, gotta teach ’em how to do it right.”
Oklahoma recruited plenty of talent on defense the last two years, signing 13 blue-chip defenders from 2017-2018. Now, as Stoops said, the Oklahoma defensive coaching staff has to develop those players.
There will be plenty of opportunities for those young defenders. Oklahoma has some positions to fill with the departures of edge rusher Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, defensive tackle Du’Vonta Lampkin, safety Steven Parker and cornerback Jordan Thomas. That’s a lot of holes for a defense that was already struggling, ranking No. 82 in the country in yards allowed per play and No. 101 in defensive S&P+ last season.
Now the Sooners have star recruits such as cornerback Brendan “Bookie” Radley-Hiles, linebacker DaShaun White and defensive end Ron Tatum joining the program. Stoops’ hope is that those players bring the talent and athleticism necessary for Oklahoma to improve dramatically on defense.
“We need more playmakers,” Stoops said. “We don’t have enough on the field. If you don’t get more, then it’s going to be tough. You gotta have guys that can get in position to cover the field and make plays.”