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The Wednesday newsletter: Would adding a 12th man on defense help the Sooners? | National

It’s time for the Wednesday journey into the mailbag.

Many questions are, as expected, about the defense.

Before getting deep into Bedlam, let’s address a few things:

Can we bring out the 12th Man, like A&M to play in the secondary? – Keith G.

So you want the Sooners to play some Canadian Football League rules? The defense allowed 366 passing yards to Texas Tech, which is just the second-highest total through nine games this season. Plus the team was without Brendan Radley-Hiles and Kahlil Haughton on Saturday.

Do you think OU’s secondary youth keeps Ruffin McNeill from putting pressure on QB’s and letting the DB’s play on an island? – @HomerHensy

I think Ruffin is still trying to find the right plan. Texas Tech was a difficult team to pressure because the quarterback gets the ball out so quick. It’s a high-risk, high-reward strategy. I think if McNeill had to choose, he would bring pressure. But you are right, you don’t want to leave defensive backs on islands too often.

Do you think we can ever have a great SEC-like defense that can work in the Big 12? That’s honestly our missing piece to a national title. If we can have an elite defense that’ll help us nationally. But will we make it out of the Big 12 with that defense? – @ChrisSwayze21

Oklahoma has won three straight Big 12 championships with its defense, but fans have seen the results in the College Football Playoff (giving up 37 points to Clemson in 2015 and 51 points to Georgia in 2017). It’s a step that OU will have to make and Lincoln Riley realizes that. There’s been a big focus on defense in recruiting and there’s no reason to believe that won’t continue for seasons to come. Better players will put OU on par with SEC defenses. But it will take time.

Why do teams burn a time out when the play clock is almost out instead of taking the penalty? It’s only five yards and they get a free time out. – Eddie G.

Interesting question. I think there are times when you could sacrifice five yards to save a timeout. But for the most part, losing any yardage is not good, and coaches will call that timeout. The best way to avoid the decision is not to put your team in that position.

Does OU have a defense or are they just putting random dudes in there? – Kim M.

I don’t think they are random dudes. Something to consider: This is a relatively young defense that has had to adjust to a defensive coordinator change. But there are some fundamentals, like tackling, that need improvement. It’s hard to find a quick fix.

Does the Big 12 have any type of suspension or penalty policy in place for officials or crews who blow very crucial and obvious calls? Given the ramifications that phantom pass interference call in the end zone on Parnell Motley, when the Tech receiver merely slipped – perhaps producing a 14-point swing – could have had on the game, final league standings and ultimately the financial bottom line for the program and university, it would be interesting to know if the Big 12 officiating crews are held accountable in any way. – Scott P.

I think most of the time, the league will admit to coaches when mistakes are made. For example, Lincoln Riley said this week that the Big 12 told him a mistake was made on an unnecessary roughness penalty on CeeDee Lamb against Texas Tech. My thought is Big 12 officials are graded and all accountability is held in-house. I can’t remember a recent public reprimand on an official.

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