Redemption time

NORMAN, Okla. — Safeties Tony Jefferson and Javon Harris have watched last year's Baylor game over and over.

You know, the one where Robert Griffin III torched the Sooner secondary for 479 yards and four touchdowns.

The one where RGIII cemented his Heisman Trophy winning season with a clutch 34-yard touchdown toss to Terrance Williams with just eight ticks left.

The one where breakdown after breakdown in the defensive backfield ultimately cost OU a chance at a potential national championship after stumbling earlier in the season and working its way back into the mix.

Jefferson admits to one time over the summer when fellow Cali-trio mate Kenny Stills walked into the room to observe the film with him and it frustrated Jefferson so much he had to click the power button.

He'd had enough.

But that's what is fueling the fire for this new Mike Stoops-led defense in 2012.

They're motivated not to repeat that trend this time around.

"I think our players are excited and, you know, they want redemption," Stoops said. "They don't feel good about what happened. We're tired of hearing about what happened a year ago. We understand what happened. That's gone forever, and I'll be surprised if they don't come back with a vengeance in those games and take it personal. And I hope they do. Again, we're tired of hearing about it. Now, it's time to do something about it."

See, those struggles just don't sit well with the returners on defense.

They don't believe the performances showcased their true abilities and are determined to prove what they're really made of.

"We feel like we have to go out here and do better than we did last year," Harris said. "You know, we did some things [wrong]. It's everything in there. It's about coming back out here and correcting everything we did and going out here and capitalizing on those things and making sure that everything goes right and we work it to perfection."

Said linebacker Tom Wort: "It's still on my mind, and that's what I want to get resolved. I'm looking forward to trying to get them resolved, too. So, you know, it's definitely personal any time you lose a game. If you don't take it personally, then it's something wrong with you, then you don't care and you're not invested. I've been thinking about those three losses ever since the end of the season and I'm looking forward to trying to get that resolved."

Fact of the matter is everyone on this defense has come into the season with a big chip on their shoulder after getting roasted for more than 500 total yards on four different occasions and 600 in that contest against Baylor.

Quarterbacks threw for more than 400 yards in two of their three losses, and that embarrassed them to the point where they're bound and determined to not have a repeat occurrence of anything similar.

"You just want to go into a season with improvement, and I think that's what we're doing right now is just trying to improve on the mistakes we made last year and not make them again," Jefferson said. "And that's all part of just being focused and having a different attitude. When you come off a three-loss season where you felt like you should have been undefeated, that hurts you inside and it gives you a good enough perspective on what you need to change in the upcoming season."

What's more?

Their coordinator has a chip on his shoulder, too.

Stoops, of course, was fired at Arizona after a rocky start to his eighth season out in the desert.

Because of that, the returning coach deemed savior by many around Sooner Nation wants to silence his critics.

"I tell them, I said, ‘You don't think I want redemption, too?'" Stoops said. "I said, [expletive], I want the same thing you want.' You know what I mean? I didn't all of the sudden become a bad coach. I mean, a lot of the media in Arizona may think so, but I was offered about 10 different jobs. So, I mean, it's personal for me, too. So, it isn't any different for me."

Fire from the coach fueling an already motivated bunch? Sounds like the makings of what could be a much improved defense.

Only time will tell on that one.

But the theme remains the same.

"You hope they want revenge," Stoops said. "That's what I say. It's redemption time and it's time to--we'll see. We'll see what these guys are about because when someone beats you up like that, it's not fun and you better respond or our issues are deeper than what I thought they would be. You know, that's how we look at it. We got to take it personal and we got to come out fighting, and I think they will."

So far, the trend has pointed in that direction throughout the first seven workouts of fall camp.

And they'll look to continue that on through the season opener Sept. 1 at UTEP.

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