Oklahoma mailbag: Mike Stoops’ future and defensive issues

After a stunning loss to Iowa State and the showdown with Texas on the horizon, questions for the  Oklahoma mailbag poured in at a higher rate than usual this week. I couldn’t get to all of them, but these six seemed to be the consensus of what fans wanted to know.

Defensive coordinator Mike Stoops and the defense, in general, are the main topics on the minds of Sooners fans.

Sean, via Twitter, asks, ‘Will OU ever change defensive coordinators?’

The short answer is yes. Mike Stoops is not immortal.

For the short term, Lincoln Riley addressed this one on Monday. Stoops will be the defensive coordinator the rest of the season. I don’t know if Riley will move him out at the end of the season. One thing about the Oklahoma coach is that a decision like that will not be rash.

But Stoops works for Riley. If Riley wants to go in a different direction, no one will prevent the change.

The biggest thing I wonder about is why Mike Stoops would want to stay. The fan base turned against him several years ago. The calls for his dismissal are louder now than they’ve ever been.

If Stoops can find a coordinator job at a Big Ten or SEC school following the season, this is the time to take it. He’s in a position where he just can’t win at Oklahoma.

It’s also a good time to point out that Oklahoma fans should be glad people didn’t screenshot as much back in 2011. Those who thought former defensive coordinator Brent Venables, whom former coach Bob Stoops wanted to keep, had to go seems to know what he’s doing at Clemson.

Oklahoma is a big name. Riley will have ample candidates in-house and from the outside for an opening. But big-name defensive minds know the Big 12 Conference isn’t a great place to build a reputation.

Steve, via Twitter, asks, ‘Will we see any noticeable changes in the defensive schemes moving forward following [Iowa State], or will they focus on executing the current scheme?’

Good question.

There will be a mixture. Coaches on both sides of the field and the ball save wrinkles for this game. The Sooners will have some defensively. Most of them are not easily seen by the naked eye. It’s usually line stunts, blitzes and coverages that are unwrapped.

Fans begged for more blitzes during the Baylor and Iowa State games. I get that. But it’s hard to get much of a pass rush when a quarterback is making quick throws. Iowa State did that all day. Texas’ passing game has the same schemes.

Mike, via Twitter, asks, ‘Why didn’t Lincoln Riley adjust his play calls to Iowa State’s defensive adjustments? They drop eight why wouldn’t you run?’

Another good question.

The Sooners rolled up yards, but Riley and Baker Mayfield do not get a pass. Oklahoma should’ve run the ball more.

Think back to the third-quarter fumble on the exchange between Mayfield and running back Trey Sermon that changed the game.

The Sooners were about to take a two-touchdown lead with about 5 minutes left in the third quarter. Punch that one in and it changes the game. The Sooners have momentum. Also, the Sooners only had 4 second-half possession and got 7 points out of that. That kind of efficiency will get them beaten in nearly all Big 12 games.

If Oklahoma had scored that third-quarter touchdown, the following drive would have been a steady dose of Sermon, and the Cyclones probably would have wound up with one less possession to score. Iowa State’s defensive play calls also would have gotten more aggressive, meaning those downfield opportunities Mayfield craves likely would have been open.

It seemed like the Sooners panicked, offensively, after that fumble.

Antonio, via Twitter, asks, Is there any chance that Jordan Thomas could lose his job?

Cornerback Jordan Thomas knows how Mike Stoops feels. Thomas hasn’t played up to his standard this season. He has 1 pass breakup and zero interceptions through 5 games.

I’ll say this: Thomas got some tough calls with the pair of pass interference flags against Iowa State. Also, the 2 leaping grabs Iowa State receiver Allen Lazard made over him in the second half were great plays by Lazard. Thomas’ coverage was solid. His play on the ball was the problem. I was standing at the corner of the end zone when Lazard caught the game-winning pass. That was a game-of-inches play.

Thomas’ coverage was far better against Iowa State than it was against Baylor.

As far as the senior getting benched, I don’t see it. The knee injury sophomore cornerback Jordan Parker sustained in August is Oklahoma’s biggest injury thus far. The plan was for him to rotate with Parker and sophomore Parnell Motley at the two spots.

Without Parker, it’s freshmen Tre Brown and Tre Norwood as the backups. The fifth cornerback is — you guessed it — freshman Justin Broiles. It’s going to take an injury to get Thomas out of there.

If Thomas can just make one play, he can snap out of the funk. It’s a shame he’s in this spot. The guy is as physically gifted as former cornerback Aaron Colvin.

Darren, via Twitter, asks, ‘Will Ricky DeBerry ever see the field? If yes, then what position?’

It all starts by actually suiting up for a game. DeBerry’s been in shorts or sweatpants for every game this season. A preseason illness put him behind.

Riley said last week they moved the former 4-star recruit from linebacker to h-back several weeks ago. I don’t know how that’s going to get him on the field this season. He’s not going to play ahead Dimitri Flowers.

The move to offense is permanent, at least as long as he’s at Oklahoma. Sometimes a switch like that is made because it frees up a scholarship for an upcoming recruit. I think the coaching staff believes it can sign at least four linebackers in this class. DeBerry moving to offense makes that easier.

Rance, via Twitter, asks, How do OU’s coaches address the effort level of players and why can’t we ever get any pressure on opposing quarterbacks?

The effort is the topic of the week. Bad tackling is an effort issue, and that’s Oklahoma’s biggest problem. There’s no scheme that accounts for safeties and linebackers diving at the feet of ball carriers or trying to tackle without using their arms.

As far as the quarterback pressure, I think that has more to do with the Sooners’ goal of stopping the run. The defensive line’s primary assignment has been staying in a game instead of getting up the field. It’s a read-and-react scheme, and it doesn’t do much to apply pressure on a quarterback.

Quick throws and run-pass options are offensive staples in the Big 12. Every offense is designed to take advantage of over-aggressive defenses.

The Sooners’ only quarterback pressure tends to come in third-and-long situations. Quarterbacks most hold the ball longer. Blitzes have time to get there.

But outside of Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, there hasn’t been much pressure from the front. A good player to watch against Texas will be sophomore defensive tackle Du’Vonta Lampkin. He showed a lot of explosion against Iowa State. He’s due for a big game.

The post Oklahoma mailbag: Mike Stoops’ future and defensive issues appeared first on Diehards.

Thank you for reading the Springfield News-Sun and for supporting local journalism. Subscribers: log in for access to your daily ePaper and premium newsletters.

Thank you for supporting in-depth local journalism with your subscription to the Springfield News-Sun. Get more news when you want it with email newsletters just for subscribers. Sign up here.

X