Mike Stoops is counting on a heavy dose of familiarity this season to help improve an Oklahoma defense that withered down the stretch a year ago.
Sooners coach Bob Stoops expects nothing less from the defense, or his younger brother in the second season of his second stint as defensive coordinator.
Despite winning 10 games for the third straight season last year, along with a share of the Big 12 championship, much of Oklahoma’s offseason has been filled with haunted memories of its second-half struggles on defense last season.
Some of those lowlights include allowing 34 or more points in four of its last five games, 41 or more three times — including in a 41-13 loss to Texas A&M in the Cotton Bowl. Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel accounted for 516 yards of total offense (287 passing, 229 rushing) in that game, though he was hardly the only one to take advantage of the Sooners’ late-season defensive woes.
“A year ago, there (were) a lot of games, it was a little bit like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde in that we had probably six or seven different games where we played really well, but we had several that we played incredibly poor in,” Stoops said.
“We’ve got to be more consistent defensively in our play. If we do, we’ll have a chance to make good improvement and I believe we can.”
That consistency starts at the top, with Mike Stoops set to begin his second season back at Oklahoma after being fired as the head coach at Arizona midway through the 2011 season.
Stoops earned his reputation as a defensive coach in his first go-around with the Sooners, leading one of the top defenses in school history in 2000 — the last time Oklahoma won the national championship.
Last season, however, was anything but a defensive renaissance. The Sooners allowed nearly 400 yards and 25.5 points per game, numbers that on the surface weren’t all that disappointing in the offense-charged Big 12.