NORMAN- Poor tackling reared its ugly head against Iowa State Saturday night.
The Oklahoma Sooners cannot afford to give the Texas Longhorns offense second and third chances through missed tackles in the Cotton Bowl.
Sam Ehlinger leads an explosive offense averaging 51.6 points per game through their first three contests.
Weary of the threat Texas imposes, defensive coordinator Alex Grinch said he thinks the tackling issues are correctable.
“You have to stick to the techniques and fundamentals and you gotta make sure that you’re coming up with a body part. That’s one of our chief coaching points,” Grinch said.
“Can we get it fixed? Absolutely we can because those guys have proven to do it over an extended period of time, they did not do it last weekend.”
After looking back at the tape, Grinch said he felt the missed tackles boiled down to two main issues.
“Number one not wrapping, not taking the extra step which means that we’re not using our techniques and fundamentals that we’ve displayed in the past,” he said.
“The second thing is in a couple of situations it was the lack of a tackle attempt which might be a little bit even more alarming.”
There were times the Oklahoma defense seemed surprised the ball came in their direction and no defender was able to step in to make the play, Grinch said.
Grinch said the onus was on the coaching staff to diagnose why their message hasn’t broken through to the team so the Sooners can get back on track.
Junior linebacker DaShaun White said the defense has to play at a high level more consistently if they want to fix the tackling issues.
“There’s some points, usually at the beginning of the game, we tackle very well,” White said.
“I think it’s just, how can we as a team get to the point where we can make the same play in the first quarter that we make play three of the game that we can make play 63 in the fourth quarter.”
All throughout practice, the team is putting an emphasis on finishing off plays from start to finish, White said.
“I think it’s a mentality thing,” he said. “I feel like our mentality is very inconsistent, which is something we work on daily.”
Shoring up the tackling could help the Oklahoma run defense and try to make Texas one dimensional on offense.
“I do believe our run defense is doing well. We have great moments during the game where we’re really doing a good job against the run,” linebacker Nik Bonitto said.
“Last game, tackling really hurt us. We were in good position all night. I feel like to make plays and stop the run but we just couldn’t finish on our tackling,” he said.
Despite the two hard weeks, White said the defense is still confident and they’re ready to hit the field again and prove they can improve.
“We’re excited for this opportunity to sort of right our wrongs,” White said.
“We’re still very confident in who we are as a defense and we feel like this is the perfect opportunity to flip the script.”