Sooners to Get Defensive in '09

Last year the Sooners featured one of the most impressive offensive units in the history of college football, but in '09 OU fans could be talking more about how the team is performing on the defensive side of the ball...

Like any other year, there are a lot of anticipations for the 2009 Sooner football season.

Some of the broad ones, as always, include whether or not OU will be able to make it back to the national championship game, after they lost 24-14 to Florida in the BCS National Championship game last year, and also whether or not Sooner quarterback Sam Bradford will win the Heisman Tr

ophy again. But one of the more narrow areas of focus is the defense and how it will fare this season.

With all the injuries last year, OU never really could quite find a groove defensively.

Opponents averaged 367.7 yards per game and 24.5 points per game, both of which were particularly modest stats when compared to the Sooners' absurd offensive stats, but both of which the Sooners would like to improve upon this year.

The Sooners would also like to cut down on the amount of big plays, which have really hurt them in recent years.

OU head coach Bob Stoops has continually said throughout the spring and confirmed it again during last week's Big 12 media days that he believes the potential is there for the Sooners to do these things defensively, especially with the strength of the defensive line.

"I really believe it has a chance to be a true, true strength of our team," Stoops said. The guys up front there on the D-line—you look at three D-ends that have really been productive in Jeremy Beal, Frank Alexander [and] Auston English. You know, we really love those guys and how they play."

Add the two inside guys, and it could be a devastating defensive line.

"And then you've got Gerald McCoy and Adrian Taylor inside that were mainstays a year ago and played at such a high level, in particular Gerald and how special he is," Stoops said. "So, those guys have a chance [to be really good]."

And the Sooners are good in the linebacker and secondary positions as well.

Experienced players like seniors Keenan Clayton and Ryan Reynolds, along with talented sophomore Travis Lewis, will serve as the linebacking corps, and senior Brian Jackson and junior Dominique Franks will lead the secondary.

Even Bradford said he's noticed a change.

"I've noticed how good they are in the seven-on-seven and then the team drills that we've done in the offseason on our own," Bradford said. "It seems like last year I could get away with some things. Maybe they'd give a busted coverage every now and then, but it seems like this summer, you know, there's no busted coverages; they know their assignments; they know where they're supposed to be, and they're executing almost flawlessly, and we haven't even started camp yet.

How good can they be?

"I feel like the sky is the limit for them this year," Bradford said.

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