No one should be shouting from the college football mountaintops about how good the Oklahoma football defense is.
And no one should be talking about firing defensive coordinator Mike Stoops, either.
But this is no time to be sensible. After all, if someone isn’t calling for a coach to be burned alive or another isn’t talking about the upcoming End Days because the Corps of Cadets managed to stay on the field a bit longer than what feels appropriate, then we’re not doing our part in the Twitterverse.
Read between the hashmarks. That’s where the truth is. We should neither praise nor bury Mike Stoops, despite the fact there is plenty of due cause for both.
The Oklahoma defense isn’t great. The Sooner defense gets exposed regularly. It’s happened this year against Army when it couldn’t catch a breath and it happened against Iowa State when it couldn’t wrap-up. It happened against Oklahoma State last season when the Cowboys went for 600-plus yards and it happened against Georgia when the Bulldogs hung half-a-hudred in the Sugar Bowl loss.
No doubt you can think of a number of other times you were personally offended by Stoops, the defense, or because some rando said something mildly irritating on your Facebook feed. In other words, the OU defense has its share, particularly in recent history of not being good.
But it has been good enough.
Didn’t adapt against Army. Couldn’t stop the Knights on third down or on fourth down. Army possessed more time than a filibustering senator. And what happened, even after all of that? Well, the defense that so many suggest is terrible, got interceptions on the two most-important possessions of the game. The defense was bad, but not all that bad. Army scored on its first two possessions and then just once on it’s final six.
Against Iowa State? Well, an NFL-t0-be running back had less than 100 yards. Against Georgia? Good enough to get a defensive touchdown and a stop late in the game. Against OSU? A stop at the beginning of the second half was a help and it was the defense that was on the field in the final moments when OU was protecting a lead.
But when you get got for thousands of yards and dozens of points, good enough is never just that, despite the fact that good enough actually gets you to the college playoff and wins the Big 12. Good enough with last year’s offense puts you in the conversation. Good enough with this year’s offense means just an extra stop or two per game is the tipping point.
No problem with asking for improvement. It’s understandable and expected. But asking for something, an Alabama-like defense, a top-20 defense, that empirically doesn’t seem possible, is your fault – not Oklahoma’s, Lincoln Riley’s or Mike Stoops’.
Sure, Oklahoma would be better if it had a top-20 defense, but it doesn’t need one to win a national title. Last year was evidence of that. The Sooners were a first down away from playing in the title game. They may have lost to Alabama, but they may have won. Who knows?
And this year, early as it is, doesn’t seem to show a lot of difference from the defenses of recent history. It seems most similar. Not good, but good enough to win a Big 12 title, good enough to get to the playoff, good enough to save its best moments for the moments that matter most.