OU's defense out of answers

Oklahoma defensive struggles climax in worst home loss under Stoops

With each passing hitch route caught in front of cornerback Julian Wilson, the crowd at Owen Field grew louder. The boos started to rain down on a team that hadn’t heard many boos – especially at home – during the past 15 years.

Baylor was systematically breaking down Oklahoma's defense, leaving the Sooners desperately searching for answers. Each pass continued to tear apart the impenetrable wall that the Sooners’ defense was supposed to be.

It clearly wasn’t, but the destruction of this vaunted defense has left major cracks: Both on the field and on the sideline.

“I take full responsibility,” Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops said. “It all starts with me. So I didn’t do a good enough job.”

Oklahoma wasn’t what it was built up to be on the defensive side of the ball. The inconsistencies on offense were expected, with a young quarterback and only one proven playmaker at the skill positions.

The defense was supposed to carry this team. It hasn’t done much of that.

Before Saturday, Oklahoma ranked second to last in passing defense. After allowing 396 yards in the air against Baylor – almost 130 more yards than the Sooners were averaging – it’s possible that Oklahoma could have the worst pass defense in the conference by the end of the season.

It’s a problem that has sent Oklahoma looking for answers, especially against Baylor in the second half, when the Bears came out in a five-receiver set. They just haven’t found any to date.

Mike Stoops had seen the five-receiver look only about 20 percent of the time on film, so he didn’t expect it as much. Oklahoma had a game plan to stop it, written by West Virginia – the only team to beat Baylor this season.

Only they didn’t follow it.

“We blitzed it, much like West Virginia did, but he was getting it out quicker than we were able to get there,” Bob Stoops said.

The secondary was left almost 10 yards off the line of scrimmage. Oklahoma dropped into a zone but was lost. Without pressure, Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty picked them apart.

“In hindsight, you probably have to take your chances and tighten up and try to force them into making an accurate throw,” Mike Stoops said. “That’s kind of what West Virginia, when they were able to get pressure, he missed a lot of throws. You can see he’s a terrific player. That happens some days, but it didn’t happen (Saturday).” There’s no more time for hindsight.

There were no tight windows for Petty to find in the coverage. Everything was right in front of him, and bit by bit he took it from the Sooners, who never figured out how to stop it. “When he’s like that, he’s virtually unstoppable,” Mike Stoops said. “So, we couldn’t do anything really to disrupt him, whether it was pressure or whether it was coverage. It was frustrating.” All season, Oklahoma has struggled to stop opposing quarterbacks. This is no fluke game.

Trevone Boykin’s coming out party. Tyrone Swoopes’ revival. Clint Trickett’s near 400-yard passing showcase. Jake Waters’ dismantling of the Sooners.

All cases where the Sooners have been lacking.

That erupted Saturday after Baylor’s long drive to open the second half finally ended. After every completion in front of Wilson, he turned and yelled to the sideline. When Baylor finally found the end zone on the only running play of the drive, Wilson came back to the sideline and started yelling vehemently at Mike Stoops.

Bob Stoops even stepped in to try and quell Wilson’s frustration.

“He couldn’t tackle,” Mike Stoops said of the incident. “They throw a hitch out there, and he missed him and the guy ran for another 20 yards. If you can’t tackle, you shouldn’t be out there.”

Wilson, who played the second half with a cast after breaking his left thumb in the first half, was not made available after the game.

It’s not just one player or one incident or one failed scheme that has caused the downfall of Oklahoma’s defense. All of those things have been adding pressure since the start of Big 12 play.

Bad tackling has extended plays. Bad schemes have allowed quick-strike offenses to do exactly that. Mike Stoops said that being able to cover has hurt Oklahoma, implying that the Sooners’ wouldn’t be good at playing tight coverage.

Oklahoma has run out of time to find an answer. The test is over and the defense, from the top down, failed.

“It’s always a combination of a lot of things when you look at who we are defensively,” Mike Stoops said. “This league is going to exploit your weaknesses.”


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