What had been rumored for quite some time now was confirmed to be true by Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops on Wednesday. The Sooners are, in fact, switching their defense to base defense to a four-man front.
“Yeah, because of all the spread we get, you know, we just feel overall we’re going to do more in a base out of four-man front and jump into the odd occasionally as opposed to being primarily an odd and jumping into a four-man front,” Stoops said. “So, you know, that’s something we’ll concentrate on here in the spring.”
The rising stardom of Neville Gallimore and the continued development of Matt Romar are two of the primary reasons for the switch. The intended purpose is to get get pressure in the opponent’s backfield quicker and it will allow the Sooners to take full advantage of a hybrid player like Ogbonnia Okoronkwo to play at the line, as a fourth lineman, or to fade back as a linebacker, much like Eric Striker did.
Of course, it doesn’t mean that we’ve seen the end of the three-man front either. Defensive coordinator Mike Stoops said that he still wants to have the ability to mix things up a bit, but they’ll just be working out of a four-man base rather than a three.
“You know, we’re going to try to play both fronts as much as we can,” Mike Stoops said on Wednesday. “And with a young team it’s hard to do, so it was hard to do a year ago. So we’re going to try to see how multiple we can be and still be effective.”
The move will most likely pay dividends on the recruiting trail as well. 2017 signees Addison Gumbs and Zacchaeus McKinney are perfect for this set in their respective roles. Gumbs will be allowed to attack of the edge and McKinney can be the big man in the middle. With the page turning towards the 2018 recruiting class now there will be a ton of eyes on Oklahoma’s defensive schemes. A four-man front provides more opportunity to play, stronger competition for positions, and better opportunities for recruits to be impressed.
Make no mistake about it, this decision was based on the X’s and O’s of Big 12 football, but it also had a lot to do with what’s waiting out there on the recruiting trail as well. That’s why Bob Stoops took advantage of the attention brought on with National Signing Day to make the announcement.