The Sooners finally got some good news when it comes to their defense.
The OU defense has been dissected and discussed ad nauseam over the past week and a half, with a new defensive coordinator in Ruffin McNeil and linebackers coach in Bob Diaco, but the Sooners also got some big personnel news during the last week with the clearing of true freshman Jalen Redmond.
Redmond was thought to be lost for the season in August with blood clot issues, but has made a faster recovery than expected and will likely see the field against TCU this week.
The four-star defensive end/linebacker was scheduled to be the day one starter at the “jack” position, which had previously been occupied by the likes of Erik Striker and Obo Okoronkwo.
He was a highly-touted recruit coming out of high school and drew attention and offers from the likes of Notre Dame and Georgia among many other high-profile schools.
As an early enrollee he turned heads throughout the spring, capping it off with a standout performance in the OU spring game last April.
After Redmond went down backup Addison Gumbs was lost for the year and subsequently transferred.
Mark Jackson, who started the season as the No. 3 option at the position, has filled in admirably, but the junior doesn’t have the extra gear coming off the line Sooners fans have become accostomed to from Striker and Okoronkwo in the past few seasons.
So rather than try and force a square peg into a round hole the Oklahoma defense adapted around Jackson, using him in more of a traditional linebacker role and putting extra pressure on fellow linebackers Curtis Bolton and Kenneth Murray to make more disruptive plays behind the line of scrimmage.
Look no further than the Sooners’ past game against Texas to see the difference in the defensive schemes. In 2017 Oklahoma relied almost single-handily on the “jack” position to keep pressure on Sam Ehlinger. Okoronkwo finished with only one sack, but his presence kept Ehlinger from setting up in the pocket. It also allowed the Sooners to rush only four and blanket downfield with coverage.
This year the Sooners were forced to bring extra players if they wanted to get pressure on Ehlinger. The Longhorns used this against the Sooners by running underneath routes to the spots were vacated linebackers were supposed to be.
Redmond’s return should give Oklahoma more options when it comes to pressuring the quarterback and creating plays behind the line of scrimmage in the run game. That can only serve as good news for a defense in desperate need of some.