When you’re looking at Oklahoma’s defensive stats from Saturday’s destruction of West Virginia you can’t help but be drawn to what isn’t there as opposed to what is. A week after recording nine sacks against Texas the Sooners failed to record any against West Virginia. Even more egregious is that for the third consecutive game the Sooners failed to force a turnover.
Failing to record a sack can be chalked up to a defensive game plan that was quite successful otherwise. WVU quarterback Austin Kendall completed less than 50% of his passes and the Mountaineers only scored 14 points. However, the lack of turnovers absolutely has the attention of defensive coordinator Alex Grinch.
Three straight games without a takeaway, which is alarming. It’s something we’ve got to come up with a better plan as a defense. Haven’t been here before, gotta be honest. Haven’t been here before.Alex Grinch on Oklahoma’s lack of takeaways
In the grand scheme of things Grinch has been masterful in reviving Oklahoma’s defense above expectations in just his first year. The Sooners currently rank 23rd nationally in scoring defense (19.4 PPG), 38th against the rush (127.7 YPG), and 37th against the pass (198.6). It’s the dissatisfaction in the little things though that keeps Grinch from taking a breath and just enjoying the moment.
“Three straight games without a takeaway, as much as we emphasize it,” Grinch said after Saturday’s win over West Virginia. “The ball’s in the air more than we act like it is from a secondary standpoint. We need to make sure we want that ball being thrown our way, so that’s something we’ve got to analyze as a coaching staff.”
It’s that same dissatisfaction in those little things, that attention to the smallest detail, that has boosted the Oklahoma defense from last in the FBS against the pass a year ago to Top 40 this season. Every aspect of his defensive game plan matters to him and even though success has followed his preparation, the most important aspect of the game plan remains turnovers.
“It’s usually before, during and after every drive we hear ‘takeaways, takeaways!’ and obviously, the last few games we hadn’t gotten one and at halftime, that’s the first thing he’ll write on the board is ‘takeaways.’ It’s a big deal and we’ve got to get the ball out; it’s that simple … We go into third and fourth down really excited, especially if they’re going for it. Our antennas are up because we know it’s time to really make a play, so we all attack third and fourth down the exact same way. When your number’s called you’ve gotta be there.”DaShaun White on Alex Grinch emphasizing takeaways
I wouldn’t expect us to see the smile of satisfaction on Grinch’s face until turnovers become regular part of his successful game plan.
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