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Thursday, January 17, 2013
Roundtable: No. 1 defensive concern

By SoonerNation staff

Every Thursday, the SoonerNation staff will answer a roundtable question about OU football. Leave a comment or talk about it in our "There's Only One" forum.

Today's question: What is OU's biggest offensive concern going into the offseason?

Ahmad Thomas
Incoming freshman safety Ahmad Thomas might be thrown into the mix right away.
• Rightfully so, there are concerns at the defensive line and linebacker positions. But the most important position on a Mike Stoops defense is the safeties. And with Javon Harris graduated and Tony Jefferson gone to the NFL Draft, the Sooners have virtually no one with experience at the back safeties returning, with the exception of Aaron Colvin, who most definitely will remain at cornerback. Where will Stoops turn to at safety? Possibly Quentin Hayes, who was the primary backup there before getting suspended. Maybe he'll move Gabe Lynn or Julian Wilson back there, though both guys seem better suited as the nickel and dime backs. Stoops could even start or at least rotate a pair of incoming freshmen in early enrollee Ahmad Thomas or four-star prospect Hatari Byrd. Either way, safety is a question. And considering how important the role is, a big one.
- Jake Trotter

• The biggest concern is getting penetration into opponent's backfields, creating havoc and forcing turnovers. While the defensive tackles have taken a lot of heat, the Sooners defensive ends weren't exactly unblockable in 2012. Life will get a lot easier for Mike Stoops if some young defensive linemen emerge. Defensive tackle Jordan Phillips has upside, teammates have raved about defensive end Charles Tapper and OU actually returns its most productive defensive lineman in Chuka Ndulue, providing some hope. However, Stoops should be prepared if nobody emerges up front and have a plan to attack offenses by being aggressive with various schemes in 2013. It's easy to point to the defensive line for pressure and penetration. But if that doesn't happen, a plan B should be in place.
- Brandon Chatmon

• Wow, where to start? This is going to have to be the year Mike Stoops earns his money. Concerns all over, but the most pressing is at linebacker. Tom Wort is a symbol of OU's problems at the position. Instead of grinding through his senior season, Wort has opted to enter the NFL Draft. The Sooners lost their top-rated linebacker commit in ESPN 300 prospect Jordan Mastrogiovanni (Dallas/Jesuit) to Texas A&M two weeks ago. Where does OU go? Where is the solution for Tim Kish and company? No telling Frank Shannon and Corey Nelson have potential. No telling Eric Striker can do some good things. But where's the depth? And will the consistency be there?
- Bob Przybylo