Yesterday, we took a look at the Oklahoma offense. Today, we turn our attention to the Oklahoma defense under first-year defensive coordinator Alex Grinch.
The Sooners will operate primarily out of a 3-man front with NT Neville Gallimore anchoring the middle. Gallimore is a redshirt senior who seems to be playing with more aggression than previous seasons. Sophomore Ronnie Perkins will occupy one of the end positions and is tied for the team lead in sacks with 2.
The Oklahoma defensive front has improved their overall play compared to 2018, but it remains to be seen how good they will look against an offensive line of Texas’ quality. The Texas OL will be by far the best offensive line Oklahoma has seen this season.
Big 12 Preseason Defensive Player of the Year Kenneth Murray is the main linebacker to pay attention to when the Sooners are on defense. Murray has a team-high 37 tackles on the season and is very active around the ball. Sophomore DeShaun White will occupy one of the other linebacker spots. White was a Texas target who ultimately ended up in Norman and has played some solid football in 2019.
One area that has seen noticeable improvement since Grinch took over is the run defense. The Sooners rank in the middle of the country in terms of run defense and seem to be committed to playing a more physical brand of defense.
Parnell Motley has seemingly played in every Red River Rivalry game since 2012, so the senior is no stranger to big games. He has had his fair share of struggles in the past, especially guarding Collin Johnson, so Texas might be wise to test him early. Tre Brown is another veteran and occupies the other starting corner spot. Sophomores Delarrin Turner-Yell and Pat Fields start at safety and have done a good job through the first 5 games of the season.
Oklahoma has done well at limiting the amount of coverage bust on the backend. Unlike previous seasons, there have not been receivers running free downfield. This has forced opponents to sustain drives and work a little harder to find the end zone, which has allowed the Oklahoma defense to get off the field more frequently without allowing points.
While the Oklahoma defense looks better and has played better than past years, it is tough to be completely 100% sold on their transformation. Texas will be the toughest challenge they’ve faced to date and the Longhorns present some mismatches they will have to scheme up to slow down. There will likely be a lot of points scored inside the Cotton Bowl Saturday afternoon, so defensive stops will be at a premium. If Oklahoma continues to get stops at the rate they have been, Texas may have a tough time pulling off the upset.
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