By Michael Kinney
Despite the last two outings for the Oklahoma defense, coordinator Ruffin McNeill said his unit will continue to work on the foundations of what he believes makes a great defense. As they take on Kansas Saturday night, the Sooners plan to keep working on the fundamentals.
“We are going to stay with what I think they need right now,” Ruffin McNeil said. “Still preaching fantastic effort. We see it like we want it in spots. Got to continue pressing that. Again, fundamental type things. Since this thing happened, we’ve emphasized that. That will continue… Just keep playing. Something bad happens, just keep playing. Something great happens, keep playing. That part hasn’t changed.”
Lack of turnovers is still a problem for Oklahoma as it heads into its final two games of the season. However, linebacker Curtis Bolton has a simple solution.
“Violent at the point of attack,” Bolton said. “Not just being satisfied with tackling the dude, being satisfied with him going backward. And just cashing in on all these balls we get our hands on. We get our hands on way too many balls that don’t go our way. I know I get on the jugs. The jugs are in full effect. We have to do a better job of getting turnovers.”
While Bolton wants to see his unit tackle more violently, he also knows they can’t lose sight of making sure they just get the ball-carrier down.
“This is the Big 12. It’s an offensive conference. That’s no secret. Some of the most shifty guys in the country come here,” Bolton said. “At the end of the day, that’s not an excuse. You line up on defense, your job is to stop the guy from getting into the end zone. It makes it a little tougher when guys are as shifty as they are like we have in this conference. You have to find a balance between securing the tackling violently. The tackling violently part is more for the second and third guy there. The first guy I’m just worried about getting the tackle.”
During Bedlam, many fans and media members took notice of how far the OU defensive backs were playing off the line of scrimmage and the receiver. It’s something that has been pointed out on the OU defense for the past several seasons. McNeill was asked about this tactic.
“A lot of times you can determine the routes,” McNeill said. “If you’re in press, most of the time you’re going to get a deep fade or post. We know that. If you are off a lot of times you can determine what routes. A stop route, an out cut, those type of things. We have times where we will tighten down and be in man. TO the normal eye, you wouldn’t notice it. But you can play off and be in man coverage.”
In the redzone opposing offenses have scored 35 times once inside the OU redzone. Of those, 30 have been touchdowns. What does OU need to do to improve those numbers?
“Just staying gap sound. Not getting too excited. I know I get too excited. Get too crowded up at the line and when they run off-tackle and stuff, I get cut off,” Bolton said. “I watched the film from Saturday and I wish I could have all those goal line plays back. And like I said with the turnovers, just being more violent at the point of attack. Not being satisfied with a tackle.”
Cornerback Parnell Motley was asked about an appearance of a lack of effort at times by the defense.
“Effort is every play. People want to B.S. at times but is all about just giving effort. To your full potential. Effort will take us a long way,” Motley said. “It might not put us in the right spot all the time, but effort puts us where we want to be. Effort plays a big role in football and everything. Effort gives us a lot. It’s kind of odd when you see it from game 1 to game 10. Kind of pictured it evolving and getting better. Every week we kind of hit or miss with the effort. At the end of the day, we keep preaching it and keep fighting and keep practicing.”
Over before he knew it
Saturday will be the final home game for offensive lineman Dru Samia.
“There was a point in the season where it felt like this was taking forever,” Dru Samai said. “But, now that we’re here, it’s a cliché, but it just flew by so fast. Just going to enjoy these last few games as much as I can.”
College career coming to an end
It took him until his senior year for Bolton to crack the starting lineup and show what he can do. But has taken advantage of every opportunity since finally getting his shot.
“I feel like I was built for this. I feel like my talent was never the reason I wasn’t on the field. There was a lot of stuff I had to work on. But there was just a lot of outside stuff. I’m just glad I got on the field in my last season and showed what I can do. If you ask anybody who’s been around, it’s not a surprise I’m playing like this. It’s been a blessing. Got to thank the man of stairs for letting me stay healthy long enough show it.”
Michael Kinney is a Freelance Content Producer