5 To Watch: Sooners Defense

Sooners Illustrated publisher Bob Przybylo stops by to offer Irish fans five players to watch when Oklahoma's defense takes the field Saturday afternoon in South Bend.

#1 Defensive end Charles Tapper

OU didn't have too many playmakers on defense last season, but Tapper has emerged at defensive end. The sophomore has started all three games this season and has provided a lot of energy and has been effective tracking down quarterbacks and in getting to players in open space. Tapper said he is excited about this weekend's opportunity.

#2 Defensive tackle Jordan Phillips

The sophomore is finally starting to become that presence in the middle everybody thought he would be. No longer thinking about things, the scheme change has Phillips playing free and loose. And more importantly, better. The last two games have been the best in Phillips' career, who has benefited greatly from the addition of Jerry Montgomery as OU's defensive line coach.

#3-4 -- Linebackers Corey Nelson and Frank Shannon

They matter again. Last year they weren't on the field that much. And when they were, they weren't all that effective. OU defensive coordinator Mike Stoops vowed that two linebackers would be on the field at all times. It's actually been three with sophomore Eric Striker in the mix, too. Nelson has developed into a senior leader, while Shannon is flying around to the football.

#5 Safety Gabe Lynn

The linebackers are the most improved group for OU's defense, but Lynn is the most improved player. He has finally found his spot at safety and as the quarterback of the defense. He has two interceptions and has recovered a fumble. Lynn missed the second half of the Tulsa game after being kicked in the head, but he hasn't missed a practice and is going to be ready against the Irish.

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