SI Take: OU's defensive outlook

It's just about time for Oklahoma's season to start. With that in mind, one last examination of how the offense looks heading into Saturday.

The time for talking is just about done. Oklahoma opens its season Saturday night against ULM. The Sooners entered camp with plenty of questions. Many have been answered, some still linger.

So how is OU's defense shaping up heading into game one?

Defensive line

Sometimes it's going to be a three-man front. Others it will be a four-man front. OU defensive coordinator Mike Stoops said it's all going to be determined by the opposing personnel.

This week will have a different outlook as defensive tackle Chuka Ndulue is suspended for the game. Defensive end has also seen its share of injuries with sophomore Michael Onuoha and freshman D.J. Ward out for at least a few more weeks.

Sophomore Charles Tapper has been the talk of camp and has solidified himself as a starter. His goal is for 10-15 sacks, and OU fans certainly wouldn't be sad to see that happen. Geneo Grissom is another defensive end that will make an impact.

Inside, all the talk is about Quincy Russell. Finally on campus, Mike Stoops said he hopes to give Russell 20-30 snaps Saturday. Jordan Phillips and Jordan Wade will also see significant time and freshman Matt Dimon might see some action because of Ndulue's suspension.


Yes, they will be used. Mike Stoops said earlier this week he imagines two linebackers will be on the field at all times. Those two should be Corey Nelson and Frank Shannon.

Nelson has been talked about by coaches and teammates as the guy who has made the biggest leap from the end of last year. Named a team captain, Nelson has definitely become one of the biggest leaders.

Eric Striker and Aaron Franklin will both see time and freshmen Jordan Evans and Dominique Alexander are waiting in the wings. The linebackers have all talked about how much more comfortable they feel now with the system and what their role is going to be.

Defensive backs

No matter what the front looks like, it's apparent at least five defensive backs will be on the field at all times for the Sooners.

Anchoring things will be team captain Aaron Colvin. Everybody else is a question mark although things have sort of worked themselves out.

Cornerback Cortez Johnson will be starting with Colvin but not Saturday as he is also serving a one-game suspension. Redshirt freshman Zack Sanchez is going to get the call.

Nickelback is locked down by junior Julian Wilson, who is somebody Bob Stoops has talked about in terms of making the jump. Safety is going to be interesting between Gabe Lynn, Quentin Hayes, Hatari Byrd and Ahmad Thomas.

Lynn and Hayes will start the season, and Mike Stoops said Hayes is playing with a tremendous amount of confidence for somebody who hasn't seen significant time.

Thomas and Byrd have been the talk of camp as well even though they're not quite ready to start Saturday. The feeling is that both will have the opportunity to start if they continue to perform and improve at the rate they've been doing so far.

Backup corner is going to be a shootout between a couple of freshmen in Dakota Austin and Stanvon Taylor.

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