Throughout the duration of December, the Orange Bowl narrative continuously centered around the Sooner’s less than impressive defense. While there’s certainly talent on the roster, Oklahoma ranks 96th in points allowed and 108th in total yards surrendered. Those numbers do not bode well for a program preparing to face possible the best Crimson Tide offense in school history.
Constantly Put Pressure On Tua Tagovailoa
It’s no secret that putting pressure on opposing quarterbacks with the defensive front is the building block for success in the secondary. Through twelve games this year, the Sooners have recorded 34 quarterback hurries and 28 sacks. Relying on the speed and decisiveness of players like Curtis Bolton and Kenneth Mann, the front seven have the potential to wreak havoc on an offensive scheme. However, it was in the SEC Championship where the blueprint of putting constant pressure on Tua was solidified.
Racking up seven quarterback hurries in the title bout, the Georgia rarely laid hands on Tagovailoa. Instead, the Bulldogs sat back and anticipated the untimely and rushed throw. Producing two turnovers while utilizing the tactic, Kirby Smart’s program carried a seven point lead into the fourth quarter.
Assuming the Sooners can replicate the success in the pass rush, a similar situation could easily unfold. As an opportunistic team, Oklahoma has scored on seven of the eleven turnovers forced this season. However, turning Alabama over has not come easy for any team this year. If OU wants to rewrite the underdog script, it starts here especially considering Tagovailoa’s recent injury that continues to plague the star.
Improved Tackling Technique
In a recent discussion, poor tackling was cited as the biggest deficiency on the defensive side of the ball.
Topic we're discussing on our podcast. Which has been more noticeable this season for the #Sooners?
— Heartland Sports (@SportsHeartland) December 26, 2018
I’m not sure much else needs to be said here. Clearly, tackling must improve if Oklahoma hopes to make a run at the national championship come January!
Produce A Defining Moment
There’s an unpopular line of thought that gives credit those on the defensive side of the ball. Faced with adversity, the defense failed to earn a much needed stop in several instances this season. Playing on, the group simply found a way to get off the field producing numerous defining moments for this defense.
In the early going, an interception thwarted Army’s upset bid allowing Oklahoma to escape with a victory in front of a home crowd. Again, against Iowa State, a similar situation played out as another interception late in the game decided the outcome. In Morgantown, two unlikely defensive scores paved the way to victory. Then, in the Big 12 Championship Game a fourth quarter safety ended any momentum Texas hoped to build.
Each of these snapshots prove that the Oklahoma defense doesn’t need to stop the Crimson Tide on every offensive possession. Instead, the unit must do what it’s done all season long…produce a ‘defining moment.’ It’s this single event that has the potential to swing momentum from one side of the field to the other or better yet…claims victory when defeat seems inevitable.