(Photo by Brett Deering/Getty Images)
It’s that time of year for Oklahoma fans and the Sooners. That yearly run of games in November to determine who reigns supreme in the conference is upon us— Championship November. Over the last two seasons, we’ve viewed Sooners and saw them turn a corner into a formation of a well-developed team primed to take on adversity. During the last two years under former coach Bob Stoops, the offense was electric, but the defense always took time to get in its own groove.
This year, people are far less confident regardless of Baker Mayfield putting up historic numbers because the defense is being abused weekly; though the defense has made halftime adjustments each game and it has worked out well for Oklahoma. However, the issue remains: Oklahoma’s defense is not rounding into form, or at least as it seems. The Sooners take on the Horned Frogs, probably the most complete team in the league, then a trip to Lawrence before the season finale in Norman vs the Mountaineers. If Oklahoma takes care of business tomorrow and shows up to play a football game against the Jayhawks, they will be in the first Big XII Title Game since beating Nebraska years ago just before their conference exit. Should Oklahoma lose to the Horned Frogs on Saturday, they will need help from OSU beating Iowa State (which is likely to happen), then they would obviously need to win-out after that.
Let’s stay with the theme of defense: There’s something wrong and it needs addressing. It’s obvious. Many people are having trouble placing the blame. Is it on coaches for having them prepared? Is it on players for playing badly? Is it on scheme for putting the players in bad positions to make those plays? Jordan Thomas has been a shell of himself from what we’ve seen in the past, Motley has had his confidence shaken, Will Johnson is playing relatively well when healthy, same with Steven Parker. The linebackers are hit and miss— one day they show up to be gamers, the next they’re completely out of their gaps. I suppose the defensive line can have somewhat of a break when one considers they’ve been shuffling bodies the entire year. So what’s the issue: Coaching? Schemes? Players? I think the answer is “yes” to a little bit of everything. The Sooner Defense has been having a Jekyll and Hyde season where they have flashes of brilliance and dominance in comparison to what many have seen vs Texas Tech, Oklahoma State, Baylor, and Iowa State.
Championship November is something that’s a relatively new phrase to the Sooner lexicon, but the feeling has been happening for years. If Oklahoma is going to win out and have another banner hanging in the athletic facilities, they’ll need the defense to flip the switch and become serviceable to at least compliment what Baker Mayfield and his offensive colleagues are doing on the opposite side of the ball.