Oklahoma defensive coordinator Mike Stoops celebrated wildly, hugging linebackers Devante Bond and Eric Striker and cheering in the lower tunnels of the McLane Stadium just outside the Sooners’ locker room.
Over the last two years, Stoops took most of the heat for the struggles on defense. Cornerback Zack Sanchez knows it. He said that the players probably deserved some of it. Stoops stuck with them though, taking the heat despite not being the one “out there playing and making plays or not making plays.”
“It real big for coach Mike to get that victory,” Sanchez said. “. . . It (was) right back to TCU this Monday. We celebrated it Saturday night. Now, it’s right back to business.”
The secondary made a statement, but still needs to stay sharp. Stoops said he didn’t need the validation of the victory, but he got some anyway. He’s not resting on his laurels, though.
Bringing Oklahoma’s defense back to an elite level is what pushes Stoops, and that doesn’t happen with just one game – albeit a very big game.
“I think that’s always a motivation for me,” Stoops said. “That’s my job. I take it very personal and that was a challenging game for us. We weren’t going to win unless we played good defense. Yeah, it was very emotional, very personal in a lot of ways.”