What did we think/hope would happen?
R.J. Washington and David King would have great senior years, minimizing the losses of Ronnell Lewis and Frank Alexander.
Depth would come from redshirt freshman Chuka Ndulue, JUCO transfer Chaz Nelson and possibly Rashod Favors.
What did happen?
David King was forced to split time between defensive tackle and defensive end due to depth issues. Washington's inconsistent level of play meant that he was often replaced as a starter by Ndulue.
Geneo Grissom returned to DE in late October following a detour to tight end. By the TCU game, he was probably playing the best of any of the DEs.
Oklahoma did not redshirt Charles Tapper and Michael Onouha, but the coaching staff didn't really get them many game reps, either.
What went right?
*At times King, Ndulue and Washington provided an effective three-man rotation on the edge.
*Grissom's return was a real bright spot for 2013.
*Overall, Ndulue was OU's most effective DE, productivity wise. He led in both sacks and tackles for loss.
What went wrong?
*OU's overall sack numbers dropped from 40 to 25. Tackles for loss dropped from 98 to 52. King and Washington had more sacks/TFLs last year as backups.
*A big part of the reason why OU got continually gashed in the running was the DEs' inability to maintain outside discipline, get off blocks and make tackles.
*OU's average level of play from the DEs really set back the overall defensive effort. (DT and LB play deserve plenty of blame, too.) OU patched up the passing game issues, only to open a gaping hole in the defensive run game.
Where do we go from here?
*The Sooners return their most productive DE in Ndulue. The wasted time at TE was a setback for Grissom, but he looks to be on track now.
*OU has to get better DE play overall, but especially in run defense. The DEs need to improve to offset any issues that might arise at DT.
*A playmaker needs to emerge. OU needs a DE to reach double-digit sacks and TFLs.
*Athletically, Tapper and Onouha are the best duo that OU has brought in for years. Tapper could be a faster Frank Alexander, while Onouha has the kind of length and speed that OU has not seen recently. (A breakout season by one of these young DEs would go a long way towards ending the tiring debate regarding OU not offering Davonte Fields, now starring at TCU.)
*D.J. Ward, arguably the Sooners' best defensive recruit, will be enrolling early and go through spring practice. Ward (6-4, 240) has elite athleticism and skills for a defensive end.
*OU's other DE verbal, Matt Dimon, has had an awesome senior year at Katy High School. At 6-2, 255, he could be ready to take some reps at DE. The best comparison I've heard on Dimon is that he reminds folks of former Georgia star David Pollack.
*JUCO transfer Chaz Nelson, who redshirted, could also provide some depth, as well as Favors and P.L. Lindley. Talent wise, though, the young DEs have it.