“If you can’t play defense, people will beat your ass.”
Legendary Oklahoma coach Barry Switzer made that statement to the Tulsa World three days after the Sooners lost to Kansas State last year. And the King is right.
The Sooners played horrible defense in 2012—ranking 45th in total defense by giving up nearly 379 yards a game and 40th in scoring by allowing 24.2 points per game. In four of the Sooners' final five games, OU’s defense yielded an average of 581 yards and 43 points.
A good D should have at least one great linebacker or down lineman. The Sooners have been devoid of a hotshot linebacker or down lineman the last few years. Tom Wort, who announced Wednesday that he is leaving OU to declare early for the NFL draft, and Corey Nelson were major disappointments this year. Travis Lewis was the last linebacker to make an all-conference team in 2009, and Curtis Lofton was the last All-American linebacker at OU in 2007.
Nearly every year, a linebacker tops the list in tackles at Oklahoma. Not in 2012, when Wort and Nelson ranked fifth and sixth, respectively. The top four came from the secondary.
Oklahoma hasn’t had a defensive lineman receive any honors since Gerald McCoy in ’09. Jamarkus McFarland was a Parade All-American and one of the top defensive tackles to come out of high school in 2008, but he produced little on the field.
“We’re not as good as we have been,” Switzer commented on the defensive line. “We don’t have the Tommie Harrises or Gerald McCoys squatting down there in the middle. They just don’t have the talent.”
For Bob Stoops to return the Sooners to national prominence, he must sign some defensive talent. He signed only three DTs in 2011 (Jordan Phillips, Marquis Anderson and Jordan Wade) and none last year. Alabama signed seven DTs the past two years. The Tide weren’t able to stop Johnny Manziel, either, but Bama is in the BCS title game for the third time in the last four years.
Qunicy Russell, a junior college All-American, signed with the Sooners and will go through spring practices. Kerrick Huggins is a four-star prospect out of Dallas Skyline, and ranked 13th overall defensive tackle according to Rivals, but 22nd by Scout.com.
Jordan Evans of Norman North is the lone linebacker committed to Oklahoma so far. He’s a three-star prospect and ranked 43rd among linebackers, according to Rivals, but unranked by Scout. Jordan Mastrogiovanni, a three-star linebacker from Dallas Jesuit, de-committed from the Sooners and is expected to sign with Texas A&M. Ranked the 28th best linebacker by Rivals and 18th by Scout, he changed his mind after OU lost the Cotton Bowl.
No one needs to tell Stoops that good recruiting could bring more championships to Norman. Maybe he should enlist one of the greatest college football recruiters to tag along—Barry Switzer.