Player in Focus: Geneo Grissom

Linebackers losing time, plays but becoming more productive

Ever since Geneo Grissom arrived on campus at Oklahoma, his role and his position has been fluid.

He started the third position of his career with the Sooners this season, and it has taken another turn as Oklahoma hits the midway point of the year.

He’s losing time and plays.

“They’ve got to make sure I stay fresh,” Grissom said. “I think that’s what the coaches have in mind.”

Through the emergence of linebacker Devante Bond and the expansion of defensive back Steven Parker’s role, Grissom has found more time on the bench during the past couple weeks.

Bond is finally healthy, and he and Parker are adapting to the Sooners’ system.

Grissom might be playing fewer plays, but at least against Kansas State, they were more productive plays. Grissom had two sacks against the Wildcats, more than double his season total.

“We’ll keep working them both like we have, outside and sometimes on the inside over guards in passing situations,” Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said. “(Grissom)’s a guy who can still go in there and play at a four technique if we needed to since he did it for an entire year last year. He’s pretty versatile in what he’s able to do.”

The scheme worked because of Grissom’s ability to generate an interior pass rush, and Bond’s size. Bond, a 236-pound linebacker, is accustomed to playing inside, something he did during early downs against Kansas State – stopping the run so Grissom could rush the passer.

“I think it’s a matter of keeping me fresh,” Grissom said. “Devante is a great player, and he’s going to get the job done just as well as I could. It’s nice. I’m not dog tired when the third quarter or fourth quarter rolls around. I think it’s a good mix.”

Grissom’s new role – at Jack linebacker – is more demanding than defensive end. He has been called on to drop into coverage more and own his space in the flat.

Bond started to see the field two weeks ago against Texas. Immediately, Grissom reaped the advantages. Against Texas, Grissom had a career-high seven tackles.

Before the Red River Showdown, Grissom had just 21 tackles in five games. During the past two, Grissom is averaging 5.5 tackles and a sack per game. He had just 1.5 sacks through the first five games.

He has rejuvenated the Sooners’ pass rush.

“There’s always room for improvement,” Grissom said. “We haven’t had the type of season that we wanted in terms of getting after the quarterback. We’ve had good games. We’ve had our plays for sure. But you can never get too complacent.”

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