Local College Sports

Solving the Sooner problem: Embrace the offense, dismiss the defense

Solving the Sooner problem: Embrace the offense, dismiss the defense

Try talking about the Oklahoma defense without rubbing the bridge of your nose. It’s impossible.

See, you’re doing it right now. Admit it.

Understandable. This defense has been miserable. No need to do a deep dive into the numbers. We can see it with our own eyes, when we’re not watching through our fingers in sheer terror.

And it appears there’s not going to be a change, either. Well, expecting the defense to be any different would be willfully silly on our part.

So, what’s the solution?

Well, the Oklahoma fans need to accept it and the Oklahoma coaches need to embrace it.

It might not be easy for the fans to deal with, but it should be simple for the coaches. Forget the defense and put all – not some – all of t efforts into making sure the offense is even better than it is now.

After all, what’s more likely, the Sooner defense making huge strides and getting this Oklahoma team to appear to be a more “complete” team in the eyes of the committee or the offense carrying all the water and scoring on every possession?

You know the answer. As silly as it sounds, the Oklahoma coaches shouldn’t fret any more about the defense. Don’t worry about who’s out there, what scheme or what West Virginia may or may not run. This defense is unfixable. And that’s fine. Time to move on. That doesn’t mean you can’t luck into a turnover or a stop. Or hold someone to a field goal every once in awhile.

It’s happened, to some extent over the past few seasons, as Oklahoma’s defense got just enough stops and got a few timely turnovers. And it’s happened this year, turning over Army twice in the last two possessions and turning over Oklahoma State late in the second half last week.

Of course, none of this may matter. If Oklahoma wins out, wins at West Virginia and then wins the Big 12 paired with a Notre Dame or Michigan loss, the Sooners will likely make the Final 4 and none of this concern about whether Oklahoma is worthy and deserving of being considered one of the best teams in college football.

The point is, all of this worry, talk and concern about what it will take for Oklahoma to turn around the defense is a giant waste of time. Now, it’s kind of obligatory because that’s what people do, but it’s a waste of energy.

Oklahoma’s coaches can only do so much. Lincoln Riley has already fired one defensive coach. There’s no more to be done. He’s only got his players and his players aren’t particularly good at playing defense. That being the case, turn them loose. Blitz often, on-sides kick regularly. Take chances. If you know you can’t stop someone, it doesn’t really matter where they take over.

This is Riley’s opportunity. Try it this week against Kansas. And then do it again next week at West Virginia.

It’s time to get even more creative (daring?) on offense. Assume the other team is going to score each time it touches the ball. Assume the other team is going to score a touchdown every time it touches the ball. What do you do? You empower the offense and do everything possible to protect your defense. That means go for it on 4th down. Every time. No matter where you are on the field. Never try a field goal, unless time or extreme circumstances dictate it.

And of course, never punt. If you know you can’t stop someone, take your chances on 4th-and-forever. What’s it matter where the other team takes over? It doesn’t. Unless the situation absolutely calls for a punt, perhaps up by more than a touchdown in the final moments, don’t do it. There’s nothing to gain.

Of course, this puts extreme pressure on the offense. But isn’t the offense already under significant duress anyway? Tinkering with the defense isn’t going to do much at this point. Tinkering with the offense is the only chance the Sooners have.

 

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