McCoy's Return Bolsters '09 Defense

NORMAN, OKLA -- With the return of Gerald McCoy the 2009 Sooner defense should have the talent to be considered one of the very best.

Sure, now might be the time for negativity when thinking about OU football.

The Sooners have lost three Bowl Championship Series titles in a row, one each to LSU, USC and Florida.

OU has lost five of its last six bowl games, all five losses in BCS bowls.

It seems like the Sooners just can't get the monkey off their back and win a big bowl game.

But there's reason for great optimism and the Sooners to break that streak when they take the field in 2009.

It starts with the defense.

"I've decided to stay," said sophomore defensive tackle Gerald McCoy. "I talked it over with my family, and I just don't feel like right now is the time for me to leave. I feel another year would benefit my speed, strength and overall knowledge of the game."

McCoy, at 6-foot-4 and 288 pounds, was listed as one of the top defensive linemen prospects in the upcoming 2009 NFL draft.

With his return, the Sooners should be stacked defensively, and it should be a veteran group.

The only two starters the Sooners lose are senior strong safety Nic Harris and senior free safety Lendy Holmes.

Besides that, the secondary returns both of its other players, sophomore cornerback Dominique Franks and junior cornerback Brian Jackson.

Franks and Jackson combined for six interceptions this year.

In addition, OU should be solid at the linebacker position, one that has been plagued with injuries throughout the 2008 campaign.

Junior strong side linebacker Keenan Clayton will be part of a more experienced linebacking corps., as junior middle linebacker Ryan Reynolds could be back next season from his knee injury.

Junior middle linebacker Mike Balogun even stepped up huge in some key contests this year.

But young guys like redshirt freshmen Austin Box and Travis Lewis were a major part of solidifying the middle linebacker position this year.

Lewis led the team with 144 tackles and had the team's second most tackles for loss at 12, just 3.5 behind sophomore defensive end Jeremy Beal.

And with more experience, they should help in making this a dominating force for next season.

With McCoy's return, the Sooners bring back all four starting defensive linemen, including both defensive ends, Beal and redshirt freshman Frank Alexander, and both of the other defensive tackles that saw significant time, sophomore Adrian Taylor, and DeMarcus Granger, who went down with a season-ending injury.

With a stacked defense and another powerful offense, there is great reason for optimism.

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