ScoutNow: Kerry Cooks with major challenge

OU's secondary needs to improve, and it's Kerry Cooks' job to make it happen.

The splash hire everybody talks about for Oklahoma is offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley and what he’s going to do with the Sooners offense.

But if the Sooners are going to make a serious run at a Big 12 championship or any dreams of making the college football playoff, then it’s going to be because Kerry Cooks was able to turn things around in the secondary.

To say the communication with that group last year was poor is an understatement. It wasn’t until after the season where it was revealed that cornerbacks and safeties met in separate rooms last year.

Cooks can work on technique and the finer points of the game now because he spent most of the spring trying to get everybody on the same page and get the confidence up for the group.

Last season’s disappointment could fuel this year’s rebirth, and Bob Stoops is excited about what is returning in Norman at the position.

“With all the guys that are back, we have a chance to make improvement just from experience with maturity and guys being older, in particular, in the secondary,” said Stoops at media days. “Some guys I think are pretty special are Steven Parker and Jordan Thomas – that were true freshmen a year ago.”

The Sooners know what they’re getting with Zack Sanchez, who many believe is the best defensive back in the conference and one of the best in the nation.

The things to watch will be the development of safeties Ahmad Thomas and Hatari Byrd. Perhaps with a fresh face giving them orders they can turn things back around.

If not, it’s going to be up to that heralded 2015 group to make the difference. Stoops has called this the best secondary class he has signed, using the term home run earlier this week.

Is the time now for guys like P.J. Mbanasor, Kahlil Haughton and Will Sunderland? Either way, the secondary problems have been addressed, and Cooks seems like the right guy for the job on the field, off the field and on the recruiting trail.


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