NORMAN – Oklahoma Defensive Coordinator/Safeties Coach Alex Grinch along with Associate Head Coach/Outside Receivers Coach Dennis Simmons met with the media via a Zoom call on Wednesday to discuss the latest with the Sooners as the 2020 season nears.
As per usual, here are some of the highlights from what the two coaches touched on today:
Happy to be Back
Alex Grinch said the excitement level from the coaches and players to be back to work is definitely really high.
The “shear joy” as he called it to be able to be back out on the field again has been great for all involved to try and get back to a somewhat normal schedule.
He talked about how all coaches are in this and at this level because they love to coach, and not being able to as been difficult at times as his loud, ‘fire guys up’ mentality isn’t as easy to transmit when not in person.
“I have yelled at computer screens more than I ever have,” Grinch said.
He made a point to also mention that while there is an uncertainty and a cloud hanging over the season, that the players are all enjoying the opportunity to be together again as well.
“There’s this idea that kids are forced to play football. They’re not forced. They choose to play. You only get a small window in your life to play this game,” Grinch said.
Alex later said he was sympathetic to the players and coaches of the conferences who have had their seasons canceled.
Grinch previously coached at Ohio State and Washington State – both of which are no longer playing this fall.
Injuries Plaguing the Defense
Injuries bit the Oklahoma defense last season and they have reared their ugly ahead once again already in 2020 – most notably with the torn ACL of linebacker Caleb Kelly.
“Our depth chart has not lasted a day in two seasons now at Oklahoma, and that is just the reality that we are in,” Grinch said.
Pair the injuries with the fact that the suspension for Ronnie Perkins is still looming, and the OU defense is going to inevitably be a bit thinner than they had thought it would be at seasons beginning.
One positive injury story, though, is the return of defensive back Tre Norwood – who missed all of last season with a knee injury of his own.
“Remember this guy? Oh by the way he was positioned to be one of the stars on the defense, ” Grinch said. “He’s moving well and all those things…been pleased with Tre.”
Getting Tre Norwood back to where he was pre-injury would be huge for Oklahoma to put alongside Tre Brown.
He’s certainly a player to keep an eye on as the season moves closer as he is without question one of the more underrated really important players to Oklahoma’s success in 2020.
Obviously, Kenneth Murray was the unquestioned defensive leader on Oklahoma a season ago.
So, now that he is gone, who is going to take the reigns as that vocal commander of the defense?
“Perkins certainly is for us,” Grinch said. “Pat Fields in the secondary.”
Ronnie Perkins may have a suspension that is going to force him to miss some games at the beginning of the season, but there is little doubt that he is the best player on the OU defense.
Pat Fields is interesting but understandable as well as a veteran player in that secondary.
Grinch also mentioned Tre Brown as a leader as well, but him being more of a “leader by example” rather than vocally.
Receiving Corps a Question Mark
CeeDee Lamb was one of the very best receivers in the country last season and will be sorely missed by Oklahoma in 2020.
Charleston Rambo looks like the obvious replacement as the #1 option, as long he provides the “consistency” that Dennis Simmons said he needed to, but who steps in behind him?
There are plenty of options for it, and Dennis Simmons wasn’t overly concerned with the staff not having a perennial all-time great OU receiver on it coming into the season.
“I don’t think it really matters,” Simmons said on not having a CeeDee Lamb or Dede Westbrook-type of guy right now on paper. “If you runt the route the way you want to, the ball is going to find somebody.”
One interesting name that came up was highly-touted freshman Marvin Mims.
“He’s stepped into a role with an opportunity with a sense of confidence,” Simmons said.
The young talent is very much there for Oklahoma in the receiving department, many of the guys are simply just unproven at this point.
But, as we all should have learned by now, worrying about the Oklahoma offense in really any capacity is almost certainly a mistake.
Simmons declined to mention specific names for which receivers stood out in this week’s scrimmage but did say that “several guys made some key plays.”
Different Quarterback Again
This will be the fourth straight season Oklahoma will have a different starting quarterback.
It is certainly a valid question to ask if that makes it hard to establish good quarterback-receiver chemistry since the players are constantly changing.
Simmons was understandably not too worried about that either, providing arguably the quote of the day in the process.
“Our job is to catch the ball, it doesn’t matter who throws it. You could put Snoopy back there,” Simmons said.
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