obo Defensive Line Notes From The Red/White Game

Image via @OU_Football

Can you say DEPTH!  I’ll be the first to admit that I’m an offensive lineman through and through, but you can’t deny the amount of players we have on the defensive side of the ball this year. There are so many guys who we’ll be able to rotate in and keep everyone fresh as the season wears on. The fact that guys can get some rest in between plays, and even a series, is a luxury we haven’t had in a very, very long time.

I thought the D-Line and Linebackers played an outstanding game last Saturday. Even though this is meant to focus on the defensive line, I have to include the linebackers because of how they stood out. Eric Striker, Devante Bond and Ogbonnia Okoronkwo all made plays at different times during the scrimmage. And even though he doesn’t play on the line of scrimmage, did anyone have a better showing on Saturday than Jordan Evans? Seriously, how are you going to keep that guy off the field? Shades of Torrance Marshall on the screen pass that he broke up to help Jordan Wade get the pick, not to mention his other multiple tackles for loss and pass breakups. He looks like a more active, more athletic Travis Lewis.

The thing that really stood out to me the most was not that they’re in the second year of this system, guys are really flying around and getting comfortable in their roles. There isn’t any confusion or indecision, instead you see guys are attacking. Time after time and hit after hit, the defense was disruptive, fast, active, and nasty. Perfect example: ‘Obo’ covers Daniel Brooks in the flat, picks a pass, and darn near runs it back. Think about the flexibility and size defensively that gives us, when your one-two at the Jack backer is the aforementioned ‘Obo’ and Geneo Grissom (who looked pretty good in his own right before that cut block ended his day). You just gained a few inches of height and 30 or so pounds a piece over Eric Striker. Then, with Striker at Nickel, you can blitz him from anywhere. Also, with Bond over there, you have a guy that can flat out move. Both he and ‘Obo’ met at the QB after about a two count on one play. Granted, the guys weren’t going against the first team o-line, but even with that said you could still see the potential threat they present off the edge. How many times have we seen an Oklahoma defense in the past few years not dominate an under-matched opponent because of indecision? Or maybe just not having the horses to keep fresh bodies on the field? Well, barring injury, that definitely should not be an issue in 2014.

Guys who stood out to me, in no particular order: Striker, Bond, ‘Obo’, Jordan Wade, Charles Tapper, DJ Ward, Torrea Peterson, Charles Walker, and Matt Romar. When you only have three true down linemen, your depth increases significantly. With the hopefully expected return of Jordan Phillips as well, it just makes me all warm and fuzzy thinking about how we can literally field a defense this year that won’t give up jack squat against anyone. Coach Mike is a savant at stopping an opponent’s passing games, and now we have a d-line that should be able to control the line of scrimmage as well.

What may get lost in translation is that guys like Striker or Evans can stand out the way they did last Saturday, because of the one-on-one match-ups the other horses up front were dictating for them. Which means opponents won’t be able to double Striker or anyone across the front like they did at times last year. Put a guy like Tapper singled up with your average offensive tackle, and he will have a field day getting after the quarterback. But it’s not just that, what should have you so excited about this defense is just how multiple it can be. Because of their personnel and, perhaps even more importantly, because of their depth, if we need to stop the run, the ability and conditioning is there. But they have the ability to go smaller, when they need to pin ears back in 3rd or 4th and long, and put Bond/Striker one-on-one outside with Grissom in the middle. That’s just unfair. The reference may be a tad painful, but that Boise State hook-and-ladder play never happens with this defense since their QB is likely staring out his earhole.

Then, on top of all of that, you put a guy like Evans in the middle who is athletic enough to both cover like a beast and defend sideline-to-sideline. He’s fluid, tall, physical, and has great ball skills. While the defensive linemen in front of him are tying up blockers, he is free to run around and crush people. Not many backs are going to be able to ‘out-athlete’ him either, by the way.

I’m just thankful that I am not an offensive coordinator in the Big 12, or in thinking ahead a potential CFB playoff opponent, trying to figure out how to move the ball on this team next year. With them being a bit of a hybrid defense, Coach Mike and company have devised a way to stop the run with minimal defensive linemen, generate max pass rush without blitzing, all while getting guys on the field who can run, cover and stop the pass. Mike Stoops takes it personal when people move the ball on him. His guys are chippy, aggressive, fast and just plain nasty.

I give credit where credit is due and barring a full on meltdown this year, this could be one of the best Stoops defenses we’ve ever seen.

I can’t wait until September!  I’m not sure how I am going to hold up for another four or five months.


  • Sooner Ray

    Thanks JY, I’m very excited to see how good this defense can be. They already show they can control the QB and pass game, I just want to actually see them stuff the run game before I call them the “greatest” but the tools are in place and September should be very exciting.

    • Sonny Schovanec

      I agree with you Ray. Most of OU’s run defense game stuff late wasn’t as much structure as it was tackling. Miss tackling, poor tackling technique is frustrating but fixable.

    • SoonerKevin

      Dusty Dvoracek said OBO reminded him of a young Von Miller last year. I am very excited for this Defense, except for Lynn, Colvin, & Ndulue, we had new guys all over the field, learning a new defense. Future looks bright.
      I think if not for inconsistent QB play that team had a shot at a undefeated season, had we had any resemblance of a offense we could have taken Baylor down in Waco, defense played outstanding while waiting on the offense to come alive, and eventually got worn out. Same in Dallas, punt return, and Bells pick six killed the morale.

      • Sonny Schovanec

        Yes it does ( the future ). OU’s staff does a great job of evaluating kids and developing talent once they hit campus.

        • tforce

          “developing talent once they hit campus.”

          This is where OU’s generally shone and where UT’s lagged. It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out in the future.

          • Sooner Ray

            I would expect a slight upturn at UT based on the regime change, hopefully it will never reach our level of success and we get in a few jabs before any improvement.

          • EasTex

            I’m expecting Strong to be unprepared for and totally “gobsmacked” by the atmosphere and intensity of the RRS.

          • Sooner Ray

            Hope it does blow his mind and I hope he takes an overconfident team to the game.

          • EasTex

            I want them undefeated and believing their Bravo Sierra.
            Strong will be hyperventilating when the game starts.
            Only five more months.
            http://youtu.be/CBYC_vEi7V4

          • Sooner Ray

            Damn Tex! That video got my heart rate up into dangerous levels!

          • EasTex

            Me too, bud.
            I may have to go out and hit something if I watch it again.

          • EasTex

            SR, you remember James Street?
            Played against that guy in high school, beat them at everything, football/basketball/baseball/track. He lost his QB job half way through his senior year to a sophomore. No one was more surprised than me when I first saw he was the wHorns starting QB. He was a “pretty” boy and my old friend Jim Bennett(Phil’s brother) would muss his hair on the basketball court. LOL!

          • Sooner Ray

            I’ve heard stories about him back when he was running the bone at tejas. Never got to see him play, I was real young when he was in his prime there.

          • EasTex

            His break out year he was listed as the #7 QB. He mostly went there to pitch.
            Several guys from Marshall were on the Arkansas team that played UT in the “Shootout” game in 1969. One of them was the starting right guard for the Hogs and the other a LB. That was the game where Nixon attended and declared UT the national champs and Joe Paterno whined like a child.
            http://youtu.be/FszLa0AhBxI

  • Sonny Schovanec

    Good stuff JY. Keep them coming. All the negative about de commits, no commits blah blah blah wear me out.

    • Doobie74OU

      Couldn’t agree more! I love reading about recruiting but everything this time of year is so fluid! I’m excited about the team we have and the oppertunities in front of them! The time for worrying about recruits doesn’t get here till about Jan 15′ IMO! Love all the articles and keep them coming!

      • Sonny Schovanec

        Amen Doobie. Even when OU fans think the sky is falling over lack of recruiting rankings and stars this staff pulls through because of their knack finishing but more importantly their ability to get what the gurus consider lower tier players that OU coaches do a great job evaluating, Take the 2013 class.
        Fans were freaking on the paid sites because OU’s class ranked out of the top 15 according to most paid sites.
        Ahamd Thomas 3 star
        Jordan Smallwood 3 star
        Austin Bennett 3 star
        Obo 3 star
        Charles Walker 2/3 star
        Romar 3 star
        Young 2/3 star
        DOM ALEXANDER 3 star Freshman All American
        Donte Savage 3 star
        Jordan Evans 3 star
        Dakota Austin 2 star
        How many of those players would you give up for 4 and 5 star star kids?? Im partial but Id keep most of them. Fans need to quit freaking out about recruiting and let it play out. This staff success speaks for itself.

        • Sonny Schovanec

          Even better> 2012 class
          Striker 3 star
          Tapper 3 star
          Sanchez 3 star

          • Eric Hoffpauir

            Colvin was a 3 star too.

          • Sonny Schovanec

            Yes he was. OU had Aaron at camp and jumped on him early. Kind of like the Wariboko kid. OU had h in camp and offered on the spot. OU was first to offer.

          • Fear The Magic

            Maybe we should start ranking the rankers since theyre doing such a bang up job.
            Rivals 3 stars
            Scout 2 stars
            etc etc

          • Sonny Schovanec

            No doubt fear

          • Matt

            Scout is terrible..They go back and change recruits ratings based on how they perform for their whole careers in college so Scout looks better. I’ve seen it myself.. One example is Calvin Johnson..They had him as a 4 star out of high school but by his junior year in college somehow that got adjusted to 5 stars…hmmmm

        • tforce

          The star rankings of individual players have never been shown to correlate independently to unit (offense or defensive) performance.

        • soonermusic

          It wasn’t just the pay sites. There was plenty of handwringing and talking about how pathetic our recruiting classes were elsewhere as well. Many of those same guys turned out pretty well.

    • EasTex

      I understand.
      I like what we have and am looking forward to the incoming class hitting campus in June.
      How this year’s team performs will help sort out who will be signing for the 2015 class.

      • Sonny Schovanec

        You bet East Texas,

      • tforce

        OU’s 2014 class, I think, is severely underrated. It is balanced and, especially if the OL players make it to campus, addresses all of the teams needs.

        • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TDUvqXK4DEM DCinAZ

          I think it’s underrated too. Last year’s team were a bunch of underrated players as well it would seem.

        • wolfbuilder

          Freshman r just that freshman if u have to hope to add depth with freshman I could make for a long avg year. There isn’t many AD’s running around here and if u think we have 2 or 3 u need to go get checked out.

          Please don’t get me wrong I love our class but 99% of the time it take time for kids to get strong enough to even play at this level. Just cause we have a bunch of big kids doesn’t mean we have a bunch of big strong kids, after all they r just a bunch of 18 year old kids

  • EasTex

    I was really impressed with Romar’s speed and quickness in the spring game. I believe it was reported he ran a 4.67 forty.
    We all know how good Tapper is. I read a few weeks ago that the 6’4″ 270lbs. Tapper ran a 4.55 forty. Call nine hundred and eleventy!

    • Zack

      If you’re right about romar that’s crazy. Because walker is in that range too

      • EasTex

        Pretty sure I read that about Romar here back before the spring game.

    • bmrsnr

      You sure that wasn’t walkers time in the 40? When do we get an update of the winter workouts? ;)

      • EasTex

        Nossir, it was Tapper”s.
        I was mistaken about his weight, though, he is now listed as 275.

  • Jason Vos

    I remember saying dont sleep on Obo, they guy is a pass rush specialist. Either standing up or with his hands in the dirt

    • SoonerKevin

      Funny thing about Sanchez 3 star rating, He was first team 5A All-State. First team in that big ole talent rich state of Texas.

      • SoonerKevin

        Tay Evans video is impressive, only hold back that might have kept his ratings down is his weight. that guy can hold the edge, and rush the passer pretty darn good.

        • EasTex

          He and Bobby couldn’t add any weight because they were competing at the supper table. :}
          Wait til Tay gets to the Headington Hall chow hall, meets Coach Tiff and Schmidt. That young man is going to grow a bunch.

          • SoonerKevin

            Eas Tex, that is funny, but probably true.

          • EasTex

            I don’t know how my parents did it with three boys just four years apart and all of us were athletes. My dear, sweet Momma would always make enough gravy for two big bowls and when we had eaten everything in sight and were still hungry she would bring out another bowl of gravy and a loaf of bread.
            I swear we used to lose weight while eating.

  • kt-raida

    This is all without the incoming class who I belive had some gems ready to contribute. Can’t help but be exited

  • Jason Vos

    Will Curtis Bolton be an ILB when he gets here, or will he be strictly outside like Striker?

    • Shifty

      Good question..both Bolton and Evans are listed as OLBs…IMO Bolton looks very similar to Striker rushing the passer..Evans excels in that department as well…Both have nice explosion at the los and are pass rush specialists..it’ll be interesting to see if either gets moved inside for depth purposes alone…In years past we’ve had backers that were multiple in that they could play dif positions but that was under BV and running a 43…I’d interested to see what Mike and Kish dial up as far as depth..is Shannon gone or just waiting for the University to decide his fate? I haven’t really looked into it in the last few days

      • EasTex

        Just waiting for the OU admins to decide if action will be taken or not.

    • wolfbuilder

      We don’t have an ILB on this past class. This is y if we lose one of them we r I trouble. After Shannon, Dom and Jordan, he have a walkon

  • hOUligan

    Thanks for the breakdown but could you please be a little more ‘upbeat’ about next seasons’ D? I sure hope it plays out like you’re saying and this D actually wins some games for us. Great D and a solid run game. I’m gettin’ goose bumps.

  • JJsooner1

    Thank you JY. This is like music to my ears. When you start bringing Torrance Marshall comparisons into this, all bets are off. Could this be a 1986 caliber OU defense?

    6.8 points per game. 60 yards rushing per game, 176 total yards per game given up, and 19 total interceptions for the season.

    Its almost unfair but I’m ok with that:-)

  • EasTex
  • Ed Cotter

    I really liked what I saw from the OU DL and LBs in the spring game. Gonna be a fun season. Happy Easter to TFB and to all the TFB fans.