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OU Football | 2013 Spring Preview Series | Defensive Tackles

Oklahoma's defense has struggled to win the battle in the trenches recently but a new group of defensive tackles is hoping to change that.

Sophomore Jordan Phillips returns as Oklahoma's most experienced defensive tackle
Sophomore Jordan Phillips returns as Oklahoma's most experienced defensive tackle
Matthew Holst

Departures: Casey Walker, Stacy McGee, Jamarkus McFarland

Additions: Kerrick Huggins, Matthew Romar, Quincy Russell, Charles Walker







Phillips, Jordan





Peterson, Torrea





Wade, Jordan




Storyline: Some would question talent and heart at the defensive tackle position but those questions would be better served for the outgoing class instead of the current players on the roster. Oklahoma is currently experiencing a youth movement along the line and while a lack of experience may bring a certain level of uncertainty there's no evidence to indicate that these guys aren't talented. The bigger questions regarding this position are going to be depth and scheme.

The Sooners have just three defensive tackles returning from last season's roster and outside of JUCO transfer Quincy Russell all of the reinforcements will be true freshmen this fall. Inexperience and youth can often lead to a lot of unexpected surprises with guys performing beyond the level that was expected of them. However, if injuries play a factor in the season, that combination could also lead to an absolute nightmare situation.

There isn't a better time to change up defensive schemes than when your starting over with new personnel. That's the position Oklahoma's coaches find themselves going into the spring and if you read between the lines of the new coaching hires and player personnel changes then it certainly appears that a new defensive scheme if coming this fall.

Regardless of the scheme, Oklahoma has to get better in the middle of the line. They've been gashed for the better part of two years now and that just simply has to change in order to pursue another championship. The Sooners don't possess an "immovable object" style defensive tackle but sophomore Jordan Phillips has the size that could make him draw double teams, allowing a linebacker or other lineman free to shoot the middle.

Battle To Watch: Phillips returns as Oklahoma's most experienced defensive tackle. Last season he played in ten games as an occasional member of the rotation. He is most likely a shoe-in for one of the starting positions but from there its pretty much a crap-shoot. Torrea Peterson played in five games during the 2011 season but sat out all of 2012 as a suspension. The hope is that he's out of the coaches doghouse and ready to compete for the other starting job with Jordan Wade.

The wildcard here is Quincy Russell who could be the player to have the biggest impact from the 2013 recruiting class, on the defensive side of the ball. A JUCO All-American, Russell recorded 75 tackles last season at Trinity Valley. His size (6-3/311) makes him the second biggest tackle on the roster, next to Phillips. He will have every opportunity this spring to step into the middle of Oklahoma's defensive line and be a starter. It may be up to Peterson and Wade to fend him off, despite the fact that Russell is the new guy on the team.

Overview: Oklahoma has to get better up front and that's the bottom line. Coaching changes and defensive scheme rumors prove that as well. OU's defensive tackles need to be able to eat up blockers, keeping them from getting to the linebackers, and penetrate into the offensive backfield.

Gone are the excuses of line coaches and senior leadership. This new group of tackles know that the resurgence of the the defensive line is on their shoulders.