Hello once again, everyone!
One of my bold predictions going into the 2018 football season was that the Oklahoma Sooners would lead the Big 12 in turnover margin. Surprise, surprise... I was very wrong. OU actually wound up right in the middle of the pack at fifth best (or worst) in the conference. Not only that, but the 11 total takeaways in 14 games set a new program low. Yeah, you don’t need me to tell you that that’s not exactly ideal.
With Alex Grinch coming in as the Sooners’ DC, along with Brian Odom and Roy Manning, the primary focus for improving the defensive woes will be about playing fast and aggressive. In conjunction with that, the goal on every snap will be to find the ball, get to the ball, and take the ball away. John Hoover of The Franchise relayed the new staff members’ mission. If Oklahoma can force more turnovers, many of the issues should begin to take care of themselves.
When Grinch, Odom and Manning were at Washington State, they didn’t consistently recruit five and four-star athletes on defense. What made their units so effective over that time was their instruction and emphasis on creating takeaways. Like Manning says in the article, it doesn’t necessarily take transcendent talent to run to the ball, or to force it out. It’s all about having the mindset to put in the effort with every opportunity.
Fortunately for the Sooners, the defensive cupboard is far from bare with so many players returning with significant amounts of experience. No, the overall talent level is not on par with the players on the offensive side of the ball, but what’s needed most at the moment is a culture change. So far, I’d say this new crop of coaches are preaching all the right things.
Now for today’s Hot Links! Oklahoma basketball is trending down, Kyler Murray signed a clothing deal, Tom Brady is labeled as a “known cheater” and more!
- The 30-point drubbing the Sooners were dealt by Baylor on Monday night was historically one of the worst home defeats in program history, writes News OK’s Berry Tramel. Obviously, with the Kansas State beating and now this one, something has to change or Oklahoma’s postseason dreams could be in serious trouble.
- In Joe Lunardi’s latest Bracketology update, Oklahoma is projected as a No. 8 seed for the NCAA Tournament and is trending down. What happened against the Bears will have that sort of effect.
- SB Nation’s Chris Dobbertean has a slightly more positive outlook for the Sooners as a No. 6 seed. He also currently projects Lon Kruger’s team to play in Tulsa.
- Kyler Murray just signed a deal with Mizzen+Main clothing company. This company has been known to come up with some pretty daring ads, such as Phil Mickelson dancing awkwardly, yet bravely. Who knows? Perhaps K1 will be next.
- The Norman Transcript’s John McKelvey writes that inside linebackers coach Brian Odom was toughened up by his older brothers Brad and Barry when they were young. He’s held onto that toughness and uses it in every facet of his coaching career.
- SoonerScoop’s Bob Przybylo detailed Jalen Hurts’ transformation as a Sooner, just weeks after he arrived in Norman. It hasn’t been long, but he’s already doing the little things that will continue to build and strengthen his relationship with Oklahoma fans everywhere.
- Out of all the high school players from the class of 2019, Spencer Rattler looks like one of the best bets for a future No. 1 overall pick.
- Offensive guard grad transfer RJ Proctor out of Virginia was recently visited by OL coach Bill Bedenbaugh and has hopes of visiting Norman some time in the near future. With all the losses along the offensive line following the end of the 2018 season, bringing in a veteran like Proctor would be a major plus for the Sooners. Florida State, Penn State and Texas are also in the mix.
Around the Sports World
- Now that Kliff Kingsbury’s long and storied career at USC is in the books (note the sarcasm), Clay Helton has finally decided on another option for offensive coordinator. Graham Harrell, who also happens to be a former Texas Tech QB like KK, will call plays for the Trojans next season. He did quite well at North Texas, so it’s probably a solid match for the young coach.
- LeBron James hasn’t played since Christmas after suffering a groin injury, but the Lakers are hopeful that he will be available for Thursday’s game against the Clippers.
- A Pittsburgh news station put up a graphic on screen that said “Known Cheater” while showing Tom Brady. Yeah, the hate is real.
- Before he became the next head coach at Kansas, Les Miles spent some time earning street cred in Hollywood. As a legit actor, he took on several roles, but in his most prominent film about the Challenger explosion in 1986, it can be argued that he wasn’t acting — he was just coaching in disguise.
- Feel good story alert: Houston Texans QB Deshaun Watson surprised his mother, a cancer survivor, with a complete home renovation of the house they grew up in originally built by Habitat for Humanity.
Stick to Sports!
- Ugh... remember when Jeff Bridges tweeted a clip that alluded to something dropping on Super Bowl Sunday? Welp, here you go. Starring Bridges as The Dude from The Big Lebowski and Sarah Jessica Parker as her Sex and the City persona Carrie Bradshaw, these two change up the usual from their characters’ typical behavior. Speaking of which, the ‘Change Up The Usual’ marketing campaign is geared towards Stella Artois’ goal of providing clean water globally for those in need. It’s a great cause, and it’s much better than this ad that’s clearly relying way too heavily on its star power instead of actually putting together a legitimately amusing concept. I wasn’t actually expecting The Big Lebowski 2 when Bridges dropped that tweet, but I was expecting something slightly better than this. Oh well...
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