OU midterm grades: defense

Halfway through the season, how has the OU defense stacked up? Handing out grades at the midway point.

Oklahoma is 5-1 heading into the second half of the regular season, but how have the Sooners done so far? Grading OU in all three phases of the game.

Defensive end

This was one of the bigger questions heading into the season. Charles Tapper was a relative unknown and nobody knew what to expect from names like Chuka Ndulue and Geneo Grissom.

Tapper has been a huge pleasant surprise with 27 tackles and a team-leading 2.5 sacks. Ndulue is starting to emerge, especially after 15 tackles last week. Grissom had an interception return for a touchdown last week.

OU defensive line coach Jerry Montgomery has done a great job of developing the talent and the future looks bright at the position.

Grade: B+

Defensive tackle

We're going to find out how big of an impact the loss of Jordan Phillips is throughout the rest of the season and this grade could go in a different direction when this comes up in December.

Phillips was off to a fantastic start and now it will be up to Jordan Wade and Torrea Peterson to make sure there is no significant dropoff.

Linemen like Ndulue and Matt Dimon are showing the versatility to play both tackle and end. These last six games could be key for Quincy Russell as well.

Grade: B


The question going into this season was would the Sooners utilize the position. That question has been answered with an emphatic yes as linebacker has returned to OU in a major way.

Frank Shannon is leading the team with 50 tackles, while Dominique Alexander had 19 against Texas and 29 stops this season. Alexander will obviously play a much bigger role with the loss of Corey Nelson for the rest of the season.

The wild card has been Eric Striker, who has been a force coming off the edge. He only has 21 tackles and three tackles for loss, but he makes his presence known in just about every single game.

Grade: A-


Everybody knew one half of the field was solid with senior captain Aaron Colvin. The question was who would man the other side. Conventional wisdom was Cortez Johnson, but it has been Zack Sanchez who has been the guy.

Sanchez has 21 tackles and a team-high nine pass breakups. Nickelback Julian Wilson has contributed in a big way, too, with two interceptions and 12 tackles.

With Colvin and Sanchez playing as well as they have, it has allowed OU defensive coordinator Mike Stoops to have more freedom and be more aggressive with his calls.

Grade: A-


The first few games were dominated by the play of Gabe Lynn, who was sensational and had interceptions in back-to-back games.

Lynn and Quentin Hayes haven't made as much impact lately but have combined for 50 tackles. Both were thought to be just placeholder starters until Hatari Byrd and Ahmad Thomas took over. Looks like that will have to wait a year for both of the freshmen.

Grade: B

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