OU vs. Baylor - A historically bad defensive recap

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And by historically bad I mean the OU defense, not my recap (though I'm sure there are plenty here who would disagree).  Oklahoma has been playing football since 1895 and in those now 117 seasons never has a defense played worse, at least from a yards allowed perspective, in their school's history from a defensive standpoint.  I don't think I need to tell you that's not the kind of history you want to be making.  What's even more disturbing is that the record breakingly bad performance from last night wasn't a 117 year old record they broke, it was actually only a month old because they had been historically bad just a few short weeks ago against Texas Tech.  In fact, this defense all year has given up some of the worst yards against totals in this program's illustrious history.  All under the direction of a man who has clearly overstayed his welcome in the opinion of this OU fan.

You can blame Brent Venables as I'm about to do and many others here and elsewhere have countless times other than just today.  However as has been said not quite as many times, the direction comes down from the head man and as such Bob Stoops has to shoulder his fair share of the blame.  Venables is running the system he and Stoops put in place, so the blame is theirs to share.  Bob has never fired a coach in his 13 years at OU, but the time has come for that to change.  I say that because I do not believe Venables can remain employed while the changes necessary for this program to take place can happen.  If Stoops can make the substantial and drastic changes to this defensive scheme with Venables still on staff then I'm all for it, I'm just not of the opinion that it can actually go down like that.  But this shouldn't be entirely about calling for Venables head.  That has been done here several times already and surely more to come, so we'll try to move on and discuss the actual game.

Eerily similar to the Tech game, 38 points should have been enough for this team to win.  And were it not for yet another terrible performance by this OU defense it likely would have been.  This defense has played the better part of one game against FSU, three quarters against Texas, one half against K-State, and a couple quarters against A&M. Aside from those glimpses, this defense has been borderline terrible.  And for a team that has aspirations of a national championship or a program the caliber of OU, that is flat out unacceptable.  In my uneducated can't possibly know anything because I'm just a stupid fan opinion, it's almost 100% a scheme issue.  It's not like OU doesn't have elite level athletes, that is not the problem.  The problem is Stoops and Venables have been running the exact same system for 13 years and have failed to adapt to the changes they now face in opposing offenses.

Their refusal to never, and I mean NEVER, play three or four cornerbacks against four and five wide sets has burned them more times than I could possibly count.  This incredibly idiotic scheme constantly matches up linebackers and safeties one-on-one with WRs that they have no realistic chance of successfully covering.  And yet it happens time and time and time again.  It happened countless times last night and they paid for it dearly every time.  This is a defense that has two of the best CBs in the entire country and yet the scheme they continue to employ is so easily exploitable that they are routinely not covering the other team's best receiving options.  I can't possibly be the only one who sees how epically stupid that is right?!?  

If nothing else proves it, this alone and it's mind numbingly repeated occurrences is proof enough that Venables has proven he is no longer the man to run this defense.  It's a reactionary defense that is dictated by what the offense is going to do against it rather than how it actually should be in it (the defense) dictating what it will allow the defense to do.  It is literally the exact opposite of how a defense should work, which defies the English language for stupidity. There may be no better example of this than Venables repeated employment of his stupid three man defensive line. Doing this gives you almost no pass rush, you're rushing three vs. five it's just basic freaking math, and thus totally allows the offense to dictate what they do.  If you want to be a dominant defense, which I assume is what they or any coach would want, don't you want to dictate to the offense what you'll allow them to do?  I mean sure they're going to beat you from time to time, no defense is perfect obviously, but at least you're doing things on your own terms.  Not theirs and you just trying to react/adjust to what they do.  This defense was getting pressure early, hell they were landing haymakers on RGIII, then Baylor makes an adjustment and OU's ability to get pressure rapidly disappears.  From there on out the defense was stunningly ineffective and while the secondary, or more specifically the safeties minus Colvin, was terrible the front four did them no favors by allowing Griffin all day to throw.

I'll be honest with you, I'm torn on this whole Javon Harris thing.  I know the consensus seems to be that he should never be allowed on the field again for this defense.  Last night certainly wasn't his first stunningly glaring issue in coverage, but do you just write him off because of it?  It's an interesting question not only because of his own future playing time, but more importantly in my opinion because of who this coaching staff seem to give multiple chances to vs. who gets just one before being relegated to the bench.  Gabe Lynn got one (two if you count Mizzou though) and has yet to see the field again.  Brandon Wiliams got one before being benched and completely wasting a year of eligibility.  So what has Harris done to get his 5th, 6th, or 7th chance?  I mean even after all his issues, Stoops/Venables/the entire defense ripping him a new one on the sideline, he was still back out there for almost the entire second half.  Whether it's Stoops or Venables or Willie Martinez, their refusal to pull a guy who was clearly struggling hasn't been the direct result of their two losses but it's sure played one hell of a huge role in them both.  That said, whatever level of responsibility you want to place on it it's amplified ten fold on the coaches inability to recognize it and adjust before it kills you for the umpteenth time.

The Stoops timeout will probably be argued about for decades to come.  Last night after the game I heard it referred to has his worst coaching decision in his 13 years here and one of the worst coaching decisions in CFB history.  I can't really argue against either, but what struck me most about that last drive wasn't the time out.  it was the inexcusable decision not to spy RGIII.  After Stoops called that time out, he scrambled twice for 22 yards and eight yards respectively, no spy.  Then on the touchdown throw, again he scrambled for what felt like forever, again with no spy, until he found a WR matched up against a back up safety (great call Brent!!!) essentially wide open in the end zone.  So on a drive where the game's outcome is clearly held in the balance, against a QB we've failed to get any kind of pressure one for the last three quarters, our genius DC chooses to rely on an ineffective pass rush to get pressure on a QB who is clearly in the zone.  There is no other way to describe it, it's an indefensible decision and what makes it even more disgusting is it isn't the first time it's happened.  Not even close actually.  

This defense needs wholesale changes.  No one can argue that any longer.  If Bob and Brent are in denial and cannot recognize this and do what's necessary, then it's time for a change.  Call it or me or fans like me whatever you like, but if you can't see that then you're just lying to yourself as are Stoops and Venables apparently.  You simply can't have this much talent and then produce arguably the worst defense in your entire tenure and not think drastic changes have to be made.  It may be a harsh truth for Bob to come to grips with, but it's the truth none the less and even he can't deny it any longer after last night.  

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