Tired of his defense underachieving Oklahoma defensive coordinator Brent Venables is opening competition back up this week at four starting spots on defense.
Everyone, including Venables, thought the Sooners were sitting pretty solid at defense going into the season but struggles by certain individuals have caused this unit to look less than average at times.
"In a perfect world, you'd like to have that group of guys," Venables said about his initial starting 11. "But sometimes, you put another guy in to try to light a fire under somebody to have more urgency to get things right."
We have already talked about the competition for the corner spot opposite Reggie Smith. DJ Wolfe is out of the mix with Marcus Walker and Lendy Holmes competing for his old spot.
At the strong safety spot Keenan Clayton was replaced by Jason Carter in Saturday's Washington game. Nic Harris was thrown into the mix this week and the competion is open for that starting spot. My guess is that Carter wins the job.
Both defensive tackle positions are open to competition this week as well. The tackles have underachieved the most on this defensive unit and now Steven Coleman, Cory Bennett, Carl Pendleton and DeMarcus Granger are competing this week for two spots. I think you could go ahead and pencil in Granger as one of the two tackles. It doesn't appear that highly touted freshman Gerald McCoy is in the mix either.
My question is what will possibly four new starters on the defense do to team chemistry going into the biggest game of the season to this point? The four tackles have all played about an equal amount of time this season so in my opinion that position is a wash.
Something had to give at the corner spot! I'm a DJ Wolfe fan but he just wasn't getting the job done and forced the coaches to replace him. Walker has starting experience but Holmes has the "future star" tag on him.
Lost in DJ's struggle was the problem Keenan Clayton was having at strong safety. He is young and I think will be a star someday but like McCoy doesn't seem ready just yet.
Oklahoma will have to play their best defense of the season to beat Oregon this weekend and Venables knows that. That is why practice has become a free for all this week for those positions. I don't think it will change team chemistry because this defense wants to be great and is willing to do what it takes. Including lining up next to someone new this weekend.