Oklahoma Co-Defensive Coordinator Bo Pelini is manning the Sooners secondary this fall. Earlier this week, Bo sat down with OUInsider.com to talk about the play of his defensive backs in game one and what is ahead for the Sooners against Houston.
JH: How did you secondary play against Bowling Green?
BP: "It was our first game and we missed a couple of things, but overall we played well. When we missed it was mainly technique. If we can continue to progress technique-wise, we will be much better. Sometimes you get out in that first game, especially when you don't have a lot of experience, you lose site of technique. You start going out there and slopping around, playing ball, looking at the quarterback and not paying attention to detail, which you have to do. That is the difference between guys that have experience and guys who don't. I expect to have a big amount of improvement from the first game to the second game because that is usually where it happens.
"Once again, we are coming out this week against a very unusual offense, so there are going to be some adjustments that have to be done. We haven't seen a conventional offense yet and we won't until we play Oregon. Then after Oregon, we go right back into unusual with Texas Tech. It is going to take some time to settle in."
JH: What role will Chijioke Onyenegecha play this week?
BP: "It depends where 'Perk' (Antonio Perkins) is with his ankle (expected to play). Chijioke will get some snaps as he has lined up with the ones at both corner spots all week. We will just have to see how long Perk can go. And like I have said, I have a lot of confidence in the top four corners. I thought Chijioke played well for his first time out there in front of the crowd. He did a nice job and played with good technique. He was where he was supposed to be, not only on defense but on special teams. It gives us coaches a lot of confidence that he is a good football player ready to step up."
JH: Would you like to rest Perkins this week?
BP: "If he is ready to play he will play (that decision has been made, he will play). If it is close, we will have to make a decision on that. If he doesn't play we have guys that I have confidence in."
JH: Is Chijioke on an upward curve at the moment?
BP: "No doubt. If you look at where he was in the spring to where he is now it is unbelievable. It is an unbelievable difference. He has grown up and he is showing progress in a lot of different ways. As a football player, as a person with everything that Chijioke has to deal with here school-wise, he has just done a better job. You can only put guys back there that you have trust in and he is gaining that trust more and more everyday. That is fun to watch because we always knew that he had talent."
JH: Is Chijioke more eager now?
BP: "Very much so. He is paying a lot more attention to detail and what we are asking him to do. He is playing technique, and we all know that he has the athletic ability. It is has been a fun transition to watch how far he has come."
JH: How did the safeties play against Bowling Green?
BP: "I thought they played good. Brodney (Pool) missed a couple of tackles, but overall they played pretty well. I thought Donte (Nicholson) played a solid game. Both have just a lot of little things that they need to improve on. They need to work on technique within the defense, positioning and even the tackling is more technique than anything else. They need to keep their eyes open and not stop their feet. They were in the right positions for the most part, but maybe a step off here and there a couple of times."
JH: What did Rice do to get nine sacks against Houston?
BP: "They did a little bit of everything. They gave Houston a lot of different looks and blitzed a lot. Rice spent a great deal of time on that game plan, and that was obviously a pretty important game for them and for their program. They did a lot of all-out blitzing, and they did some one or two extra guys blitzing. They also rushed quite a bit with just four.
"When you look at how the game went I was shocked. Houston only had about 40 total snaps. It was 44 on the computer, but when you add a couple of penalties and a couple of no plays, then they only had about 40 snaps. It was a very odd game. At one time, Houston had a guy running wide open right down the middle of the field and the guy fell down. The guy caught the ball and fell down, but it could have been a touchdown. They had a couple of opportunities, but they missed them and then Rice did a great job of controlling the ball. Their defense wasn't on the field very much."
JH: Everybody calls the Houston offense a spread offense, but it is not a normal spread offense is it?
BP: "They like to run the ball, and it is a very unusual offense. I have been at this a long time and I haven't seen an offense quite like this one. It is just how they position their guys because what they do is significantly different. They do run the ball, even with all the wideouts they have in the game. With all the motions and all the spread formations, they do run the ball a good amount of time. They have balance in what they do, but it is just an unusual way of getting to it."
JH: The first four games you are playing some awkward type of offenses. Is Oregon more of a traditional offense?
BP: "Oregon is pretty multiple, but they are the closest to a pro-style offense. They have a really nice scheme. I haven't looked at Oregon for a few weeks, but they run a nice offense. Bowling Green is one thing, then you get into a totally different thing against Houston. Then you are back to a pro-style offense, and then you have Tech. So, you are changing gears a lot, but at the same time you don't want to give your guys too much. Last week against Bowling Green, we just let our guys go out there and play a lot. We didn't do a lot because we stayed pretty vanilla and let our guys go out there and play ball a little bit. They were spread out and we didn't know their offensive coordinator that wel.l We didn't know what they were going to do with their new quarterback, so we didn't feel like we needed to bring all kinds of stuff and ask our guys to do too much too soon."
Pelini preparing defensive backs for another test
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