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Could OU's DL woes change in 2013?

1/9/2013
Chuka Ndulue will be Oklahoma's lone returning starter on the defensive line from a group that underachieved statistically in the 2012 season. Matthew Emmons

As critics took aim at Oklahoma’s defensive line this season, head coach Bob Stoops was unyielding in his defense of his players, often pointing to the experience that five senior rotation players bring to the table. Stoops said on more than one occasion that his defensive line was playing well.

The numbers beg to differ.

OU ranked No. 112 nationally in tackles for loss (4.23 per game), No. 70 in sacks (1.85 per game), No. 50 in scoring defense (25.46 points per game) and No. 100 in turnovers gained (16). While it’s true the Sooners defensive line wasn’t required to be disruptive in defensive coordinator Mike Stoops' system, a general lack of penetration played a key role in those final numbers.

The bad news? Things could be even worse in 2013.

The experience factor, which Bob Stoops consistently pointed to this fall, will be gone next fall. Sophomore defensive end Chuka Ndulue is the lone returning starter, redshirt freshman defensive tackle Jordan Phillips saw his role grow at the end of the season and sophomore defensive end Geneo Grissom played significant snaps in the final few games. Those three players bring the lone returning experience, with Ndulue and Phillips bringing the lone significant experience.