Spring is finally over for the Oklahoma Sooners. It’s time to look toward preseason camp and the 2016 season. But first, we’ve got to look back in order to look forward.
Oklahoma capped its spring practice season with the Red-White game, showcasing a handful of good and a handful of bad as well.
Over the next week, Sooners Illustrated will break down each position. We’ll see what we’ve learned and what we still need to find out. We’ll cap it with a post-spring depth chart prediction.
Here it goes.
What we know?
For the simple sake of argument, we’ll use the Oklahoma 3-3-5 defensive alignment to classify defensive ends, which means we are likely looking at Charles Walker, Matt Dimon, Neville Gallimore and D.J. Ward in the two-deep. Austin Roberts and Du'Vonta Lampkin would be classified in that group, too.
So, what do we know?
Walker missed the spring game, but we learned in the last month that this is probably his last season at Oklahoma. He seems ready for a big year. Dimon and Ward were the first-team starters in the Red-White game, but it was Gallimore that probably looked the best. Roberts still looked overmatched at times. His frame is still slight compared to most odd-front defensive ends.
Oklahoma will need help stopping the run during the season. There’s also no secondary pass rusher behind Walker, and without Eric Striker or Devante Bond coming off the edge at linebacker, the Sooners pass rush could be in trouble as well.
What we need to know?
Is Walker ready to become the kind of defense end that Oklahoma hasn’t really had under Bob Stoops? Will Gallimore force his way on to the field over players like Dimon and Ward, who he appears to be more superior to athletically? These aren’t just minor questions. Oklahoma’s defensive is going to get a face-lift from last season after losing just about all of its top players/leaders.
There’s some depth on the line, but half of the top six defensive ends have never seen a snap on the field at Oklahoma. There will be a heavy rotation most likely, but it’ll be interesting to see if defensive coordinator Mike Stoops deploys the line in even-talent groups in order to balance out the skill or if he has a true No. 1 line.
What the coaches are saying?
“We still have to continue to get better rushing the quarterback. . . . We’re just playing a little bit different in what we emphasize. We have to try to create some more edge pressure. That’s probably one of our major concerns heading into next fall.” – Oklahoma defensive coordinator Mike Stoops.