Sooners look to fill holes in secondary

By Michael Kinney

Oklahoma made it official this week when coach Lincoln Riley announced that Tre Norwood will be out for the season after tearing his left ACL earlier in fall camp.

The junior defensive back from Ft. Smith Arkansas was considered one of the Sooners best cover cornerbacks. In his first two seasons he started 19 games and played in a total of 28. He also collected 88 tackles, 1.5 interceptions and 13 pass breakups.

Norwood’s teammates know they will feel his loss in the defensive backfield.

“He just told us we have to step up,” Brendan Radley-Hiles said. “He told me that especially, being at that (nickel) position. His presence is still there. His leadership factor is still there. We have to step up and play for him.”

Norwood was expected to start at the nickel spot this season. But now that position leaves a wide-open spot that players such as Radley-Hiles are looking to fill.

“I was always a free player playing the strong safety position last year,” Radley-Hiles said. “Bumping down and playing a nickel. You’re always a free player at that nickel position, but at the same time it’s similar as well. Both are high energy.”

Along with Radley-Hiles, look for Chanse Sylvie and Jeremiah Criddell to get their shot.

“Sylvie’s down there a little bit, and there are a number of other guys,” OU defensive coordinator Alex Grinch said. “We’re kind of by committee. Criddell, a freshman, is getting some work down there. But like a lot of spots, it’s kind of a position to be named later in terms of who that guy is. But at this point, I’ve been pleased with Bookie.”

With Norwood down, the Sooners now have only a few DBs who have experience. They include players such as Parnell Motley, Tre Brown, Jordan Parker, Robert Barnes, Pat Fields, Justin Broiles and Delarrin Turner-Yell.

However, Grinch is looking for more players to step up.

“Probably not as much competition as I’d like at this point,” Grinch said of the safeties. “Credit goes to (Turner-Yell and Fields) in that sense. So there’s some positives. The negative side, I don’t feel the push from that second level… I’d like there to be more competition on the back end, but those guys have done a nice job thus far in fall camp and continued on from the spring.”

Michael Kinney is a Freelance Content Provider

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