So far through 2013, the Oklahoma Sooners defense appears as if it’s returning to its old, dominant form. Yes, it’s early, and, yes, they really haven’t played the stiffest of competition yet this season, however, you can tell that this unit seems more disciplined than last season and poised for success.
Now, the ironic part is that this is an entirely different defensive scheme than the Sooners have had in recent memory under Bob Stoops. Before the season began, Stoops alluded to the fact that his squad would be switching out of the traditional 4-3, and into a 3-3-5 look. Obviously, this scheme puts a lot more emphasis on stopping the fast-paced passing offenses the Big 12 is pretty much built upon nowadays.
But this Saturday when the Sooners travel to South Bend for a rematch from last season against Notre Dame, it may already be time to re-visit that old four-man front unit.
With the Irish not really falling into that category of the high-powered Big 12 offenses, there’s been whispers that Stoops may consider putting four men back up on the front of the defensive line, a consideration that he didn’t exactly rule out when speaking to the Oklahoman:
“There’s a good chance,” Stoops said Monday when asked if the Sooners would use a four-man front against Notre Dame. “But I’m not gonna give you any percentages on it.”
Those were the public words spoken by head coach Bob Stoops. Privately, in his own head, I’m sure the answer may have been more along the lines of a simple, “duh!”
Yeah, I firmly understand that “duh” is neither an acceptable answer for Bob Stoops the head coach to give to the media, nor is it maybe something that I should be using right now as a writer to elaborate on this news to you.
But, in this case, it’s really the only logical answer for anyone that knows the game of football, as well as anyone that watched last year’s surprising blowout of the Sooners by the Irish.
Notre Dame’s victory last season during their improbable BCS Title Game run was one of the highlights of their incredible season. But what was most shocking about that win in Norman last year wasn’t just the fact that Notre Dame walked into Norman and won, but rather it was the way they won.
It was pure domination. 30-13 was the final score and possibly the moment we all began to realize that that was a special Irish team we were all looking at. Now, while the ND defense was definitely the MVP in that game as they made QB Landry Jones’ night a complete living hell, there was one part of the offense that contributed mightily to the victory.
Rushing the ball, the Irish were outstanding. They were able to rack up 215 yards against the OU defense with an average of 5.5 yards per carry. If Oklahoma were to trot out a three-man front on Saturday, the chances of that happening again are quite positive.
Especially with Tommy Rees at QB, what Notre Dame likes to do is establish a solid game on the ground, to open up wider passing lanes for their historically mistake-prone signal caller. Throwing four-men back up on the line of scrimmage, shutting down the run game and putting the ball–and the game–solely in Rees’ hands should prove quite the successful night for the Sooners–as well as bring them a night of redemption.