NORMAN, Okla. — Well, so much for a bye week. A lot has happened in a small amount of time for the Sooners, and we’re about to break it down. There’s no game this week, but there’s plenty of action. Major changes are coming and this team has a new mindset. Now it’s time to restart and revamp this squad, and get ready for another potential run at the playoffs.
As always, we start with the health. However, we typically don’t start off with good news. To top it all off, this is great news for all. Our very own Brandon Drumm reports that freshman defensive end/outside linebacker Jalen Redmond got the thumbs up for full contact. After being diagnosed with blood clots, it was expected that Redmond would sit out the season. Now, he’s getting geared up and ready for TCU. This is huge for a defense that needs a boost in the front seven. Redmond shot up recruiting boards his senior year of high school, and he might have had a shot at a starting role during the offseason. It has yet to be determined how much of a role Redmond will have, but regardless, this defense could use more bodies. Let’s see what the Midwest City product has to offer.
This section is about to get STUFFED. So much to say, so let’s start with the obvious. Mike Stoops is no longer Oklahoma’s defensive coordinator. With Stoops out, Ruffin McNeill steps in as interim DC. The players have faced plenty of emotional experiences this week, but emotions can fuel a ferocious comeback. The Texas loss was tough, and the loss of a coach is difficult, but it’s all about how you react to adversity. They have reacted well so far, mainly because of the tremendous amount of respect they have for McNeill. That respect, and the trust they have in him has made the changes they are making much easier. What are those changes? Well, without revealing too much (check out our VIP board for more), the front seven and the secondary aren’t exactly staying the same. A four-man front is coming, and with that, expect Ronnie Perkins to play a whole lot more. Perkins should provide plenty of power and added pass rush, which is exactly what the doctor ordered for Oklahoma. Another change is the move of Bob Diaco, formerly the defensive analyst, to outside linebackers coach. Players and coaches agree that Diaco has brought a unique energy to the practice field. Diaco has a short amount of time to get on the same page with his players, but it seems like that won’t be a problem. As far as changes in the linebacker corps, expect Levi Draper to become the backup to Curtis Bolton. Draper was limited in action previously, but the coaching staff is now putting an emphasis on Draper’s future. Finally, the secondary will be making some switches as well. Again, the full details can be found on our board, but you can expect some changes in the lineup. Finding the perfect mix of players in the back end is crucial for the Sooners, especially after all of the scrutiny these defensive backs have faced. In the end, the bye week comes at a perfect time for this defense and really the entire team.
Normally, I would focus this section of the article on breaking down the Sooners’ opponent. However, it’s pretty simple who the Sooners face this week: Themselves. Change is difficult, and losses aren’t easy, but the most difficult aspect of it all is the response. The bye week gives this team an opportunity to come together and start with a clean slate. In the eyes of the nation that isn’t the case, but this team knows that anything goes after this week off. The Sooners have done it before, they’ve dropped a game and made their way to the College Football Playoff. Granted, those seasons didn’t involve a major coaching change in the middle, but that’s what could make this team special. The best responses come with great thought and preparation. Oklahoma has been given the opportunity to start formulating theirs. Let’s see what they come up with.