4. College Football News Preview 2020: Oklahoma Sooners Defense 3 Things To Know
– Alex Grinch came in and fixed up the defense in a hurry. The second-year defensive coordinator took a group that finished 114th in total defense in 2018 and was dead last in pass defense by a relative mile, and improved it to No. 2 overall in the Big 12 with a pass defense that was over 1,000-yards better.
Best of all, it’s loaded with enough veterans and talent to be even better.
Heart-and-soul leading tackling LB Kenneth Murray took his talents to the LA Chargers, but 12 of the top 15 tacklers are expected back after undergoing a youth movement. Linebacker coach Brian Odom has plenty of options to work with, starting with the versatile DaShaun White – who finished fourth on the team with 51 stops – and with Caleb Kelly back after missing almost all of last season.
– So why the big turnaround under Grinch? Getting more of a pass rush and generating more pressure had a whole lot to do with it, and he’s got the line returning to be a killer. Ronnie Perkins is expected to miss a few games after being suspended by the NCAA for a fail drug test – but it’s under appeal – and Neville Gallimore is gone from the nose.
Fortunately, Jalen Redmond is a promising pass rusher on one side, LaRon Stoke is another big body who’ll start at end, and Marcus Stripling is a speed rusher who can step in for Perkins early on. The interior is a little bit tougher, needing JUCO transfer Perrion Winfrey to be a factor right away in a rotation with 293-pound sophomore Jordan Kelley.
– There might not be any superstars in the secondary with Parnell Motley gone at corner, but it’s a solid group as long as the pass rush continues to be strong. Delarrin Turner-Yell turned into a nice part of the puzzle at safety, and junior Pat Fields finished second on the team with 64 stops. These two will make a whole lot of plays, but the defensive backs have to start coming up with more interceptions.
Brendan Radley-Hiles should be among the team’s top five tacklers again, and Tre Brown and Tre Norwood – who missed all of last year hurt – should be fine parts to work around at corner.