Chizik Keeping SLB Adjustment On Eve Of OU

Co-Defensive Coordinator Gene Chizik is sticking with the adjustment he made at SLB for Missouri, replacing four-game starter Drew Kelson with Robert Killebrew. Chizik prefers to use the language of co-starters and cross-training while emphasizing the benefit of building depth. Even if RB Adrian Peterson isn't 100 percent, there must be an upgrade in the backside support from outside linebackers Saturday.

"Robert's playing really well right now," Chizik said, adding that his intent is to "slash the starters" (i.e., Killebrew/Kelson are starting, even though Kelson is still listed atop this week's depth chart). "It could pan out one way or the other in any week, but I want healthy competition in the room. I want them to understand that production is the most important thing. There are no sacred cows out there. You've got to produce."

Among the linebackers this season, MLB Aaron Harris has 36 tackles followed by Killebrew's 22 stops (including five during his first career start last Saturday). RS-freshman Rashad Bobino has 19 tackles at WILL while Kelson has 14 stops through four contests.

"In our (linebackers) room, we never really talk in terms of a starter," Chizik said. "I say (to backups), 'If you're playing a lot, you are a slash/starter. If this guy gets hurt and you come and start for him the next week, that's what you should be, anyway. That's how we're trying to build it."

Ultimately, what is being built is depth.

"The more guys that play, the more guys are happy as long as they are playing effectively," Chizik said. "It builds depth in the room and it brings trust from one guy to the next. He finds out that the other guy can get it done until he comes back in."

Kelson played both SAM and WILL against the Tigers, notching four tackles, while Killebrew played both SAM and MIKE. The cross-training, while adding depth, can also add a kernel of confusion for opposing offenses.

"If you were looking at us and saying, 'He's a SAM, he's a WILL or he's a MIKE,' you could get really confused," Chizik noted.

Chizik is understandably vague regarding his schemes prior to each ball game, and then somewhat self-deflecting following the game (i.e., details about Chizik's adjustments have to come either from Brown or from players). This week is no different:

Do you come after RS-freshman Rhett Bomar more than you would another QB? Depends on the situation, says Chizik. Do you put eight in the box and primarily try to shut down Peterson and put the ballgame in Bomar's hands? We always try to stop the run first, says Chizik.

It's a relatively inexperienced Sooner team that took a giant step toward growing up with its 43-21 thumping of Kansas State, Chizik believes.

"I think what you're see is a maturation process among young guys," he said. "They're becoming mature and they're learning how to play. It takes you four or five games to get into the swing of what's going on. You can see that happening right now."


Horns Digest Top Stories