There’s no denying the depths to which Oklahoma’s defense has fallen. Had they been any good at all then new defensive coordinator Alex Grinch wouldn’t be there. Heck, had they even been mediocre then the Sooners may have nabbed a national championship or two over the last four years.
Grinch was brought to Oklahoma to solve a problem, so why would he pretend the problem doesn’t exist. He’s been very open about the recent failures on the defensive side of the ball and the need to correct them.
“We’re 129th out of 129 teams versus the pass. Believe me, if I could get it tattooed on every single one of them, I would,” Grinch said back in the spring in regards to his defensive unit. “Because that’s something if we don’t get corrected, we’re gonna have major, major issues.”
Anyone who has watched this team over the last three seasons knows just how bad they became. The idea that it was all coaching was just a farce. Talent on the field played just as much of a role in Oklahoma’s defensive misery as the coaches on the sideline. Now, that Grinch has brought some new faces, and a lot of new energy, to the coaching staff it’s time to address the guys on the field.
“We’ve seen signs of that disease creep into our practices,” Grinch noted when discussing Oklahoma’s past defensive life during spring ball. “I coach the secondaries as well, so I’m not pointing fingers, but that’s something that unfortunately is still ingrained in these guys as we battle to get it out.”
Old habits are hard to break and for Oklahoma to really reach the types of new heights Grich aspires for them there is going to have to be a change in the personnel on the field as well. He knows it, you know it, and so does Joe Sooner Fan. That’s where some draw the line though. It was easy to demand change and show Mike Stoops the door for his shortcomings, but doing the same with the eleven guys on the field has some of the fan base a little bothered.
Grinch is working on changing the roster by gaining recruiting momentum and winning battles for key recruits. Oklahoma’s last three commitments, for 20202, have been on the defensive side of the ball. Two of those commitments came at the expense of Oklahoma’s rivals.
Linebacker Brynden Walker was an Oklahoma State commit who flipped to the Sooners and Grinch went head-to-head with Texas to land 4-star safety Bryson Washington.
His sales pitch is simple, truthful, and effective, “We’re not any good and you can make us better!”
“He told me what it is, straight up,” 4-star corner Joshua Eaton said in an interview with Rivals during the 5-Star Challenge. “Oklahoma is hurting at defensive back. They’re hurting on defense. Basically, he told me that if there was not one person from the defense that could go to the NFL right now. That’s different. That’s keeping it real with what’s going on. Most coaches trying to feed you different stories, but he’s telling me the real, he’s showing me the real and I’m hearing the real,”
Some have looked at that as Grinch negatively recruiting against his current roster, but the vast majority of folks see it for what it is…truth. The idea is that acknowledging a problem truthfully is the best way to fix it. Pandering, coddling, and casting blame somewhere else only extends the problem.
Accountability has come to Oklahoma’s defense and that’s a big change from the recent past. This defense needs to be challenged from their own sidelines and not just the quarterbacks on the opposite of the field. Owning up to mistakes and failed potential is the greatest challenge this defense will face in 2019. Doing so could lead to a completely different mentality and style of play this fall. Failing to do so would lead to Oklahoma fans waiting on the 2020 recruiting class to be the agents of change.