Before the Sooners' 31-14 win over Iowa in the Insight Bowl, Jake Trotter and Brandon Chatmon analyzed each Oklahoma position group. Now, the SoonerNation staff is giving each position a grade for its performance in 2011.
The Big 12 is a tough league to defend, but a No. 55 ranking in total defense is unacceptable at OU. The defense had some phenomenal performances (Florida State, Texas and Kansas State). But it will be remembered for how it fared against Texas Tech (41 points), Baylor (45 points) and Oklahoma State (44 points).
- Jake Trotter
The Sooners defense had several dominating performances including Texas and Florida State but horrible efforts against Baylor, Texas Tech and Oklahoma State has overshadowed the good. OU finished fifth nationally in third down defense (30.5 percent), No. 12 in tackles for loss per game (7.5) and forced 27 turnovers. But the lack of overall depth on defense came back to bite OU at key times (Texas Tech, Baylor). Developing players who can seamlessly step in is the coaches responsibility and they didn’t do that in 2011. Simplifying schemes could also help because repeated mental busts also falls on the coaching staff if they continue happening late into the season.
- Brandon Chatmon
The biggest problem with the defensive coaches was that they never developed depth to have OU ready when there were some troubles. Obviously you have to earn the playing time, but how is it that at a place like OU there isn’t enough trust and quality for the Sooners to be able to roll with the punches when a couple of players are struggling. It was a great year for Bobby Jack Wright as the defensive ends were clearly the highlight of the Sooners’ defense.
- Bob Przybylo
After all the hype about the "sharks" before the season, Oklahoma's defense underwhelmed. With dominating early performances against Florida State and Texas, some hoped the 2012 group could be among the best of the Bob Stoops era. But in the late season losses to Texas Tech, Baylor and Oklahoma State, the Sooners' defense played poorly, particularly in the secondary.
- Dane Beavers