Welcome back to yet another edition of our 2019 Countdown to Kickoff series! College football is nearly here, and with only 11 days until the Oklahoma Sooners begin their chase for eight, I want to take a closer look at senior CB Parnell Motley.
With all the changes incoming for the OU defense, such as DC Alex Grinch and cornerbacks coach Roy Manning, all defenders have had a clean slate to work with this offseason. One of those players is Parnell Motley, the 6’0” senior CB out of Washington, D.C. who has 21 starts in 39 appearances to his name, making him one of the most experienced defensive players on the roster.
By all accounts, Tre Brown should have one of the CB spots completely locked up, leaving one more still up for grabs. That’s where Motley comes in. Especially after Tre Norwood went down for the season earlier this month, it appears to be a two-man competition between P. Mot and redshirt junior Jordan Parker. At this point, a starter has yet to be determined, but both could and likely will receive an ample amount of playing time to settle the pecking order on the field.
The #Sooners Parnell Motley talked about his ability to bounce back. "There's always been a lot of weight on my shoulders, but I always manage to push through adversity." @YukonReview #Oklahoma #CollegeFootball pic.twitter.com/UgrVVJUYf5— Michael Kinney (@EyeAmTruth) August 16, 2019
Over the last two seasons, Motley has taken a ton of criticism from a large contingent of Sooner Nation, with some of it warranted, and some of it uncalled for. Before, he was in a system that was proven to fail time and time again, but now he’s playing in Grinch’s defense, where DBs are both encouraged and instructed to play the ball instead of simply attempting to keep receivers in front of them.
Even with all the heat Motley has absorbed over the years, he’s made his fair share of plays in clutch moments. Take this fourth quarter interception against Ohio State in 2017.
1⃣1⃣ Days Until ️ .— Sooner Gridiron (@soonergridiron) August 21, 2019
Parnell Motley's fourth quarter interception against Ohio State in Columbus came on a play that started at the 11:11 mark with OU leading by 11 points. #OUDNA | #BoomerSoonerpic.twitter.com/MtptJ2dBuA
He also came up with the game-clinching INT against Army in overtime last September. Also, shout out to the pass rush for the assist.
Here was my view of Parnell Motley's game sealing overtime interception. What a strange night. pic.twitter.com/2lH2bkBjev— Eddie Radosevich (@Eddie_Rado) September 23, 2018
Over the course of his career, Motley has 20 pass breakups, five interceptions and forced one fumble. Whether he wins the starting job to open the 2019 season or not, I fully expect him to factor into the defensive equation in a significant capacity at some point this fall, and when he does, the goal is for him to be set up in a better situation than in the past.
Speaking of No. 11, let’s not forget about five-star freshman WR Jadon Haselwood, who could make a big impact in spite of the logjam of receiving talent in 2019.
Now let’s cover any days we missed since our last countdown post:
12 Days! - Big 12 Championships & Austin Box
Since the inception of the Big 12 in 1996, the Oklahoma Sooners have claimed 12 conference titles. That means in the 23 year history of the league, OU has finished the season atop the standings over half the time.
The one small asterisk in Oklahoma’s run of league titles came in 2012, when the Sooners were deemed co-conference champs with Kansas State for having finished with the same record despite losing the head-to-head matchup that year. Blame the Big 12 for its dumb rule that has since been rectified, but hey, it still counts.
After Oklahoma, Texas has the most Big 12 titles with a grand total of three, and Baylor is the only other school to win the conference in consecutive years (2013-14). Going into the 2019 season, OU is competing for its fifth straight Big 12 championship. What the Sooners are currently doing not only puts them in a class of their own compared to the other nine members, it’s a reign of dominance that hasn't been bested in all of college football.
I also want to use this opportunity to remember the life and football career of Austin Box, the OU linebacker who tragically passed away in the spring of 2011 due to a prescription drug overdose. The Enid, Oklahoma native was not only a great player on the field, his friends and teammates were drawn to his vibrant and welcoming personality outside the lines. You can read more about his story here from my write-up during last year’s countdown series.
13 Days! - Top 10 in turnovers lost
In 2018, Oklahoma was one of the best teams in all of the FBS when it came to not turning the ball over. Tied for ninth in the nation, the Sooners’ offense only gave the ball to the opposing defense 13 times in 14 games. In fact, there were six games last season where OU never turned the possession over.
On the flipside, Oklahoma’s defense only gained 11 total takeaways on the season, which ranked 120th in the nation, and left OU with a final TO margin of -2. With Alex Grinch and the new defensive coaches on the staff emphasizing turnovers throughout the offseason, that number should ideally increase this fall.
Now just because, check out No. 13 DB Tre Norwood intercepting a tipped pass to seal the deal against Texas in the Big 12 Championship Game. While it’s unfortunate he won’t be available this season, the goal is for his teammates to make more of these types of plays in the coming weeks and months.
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