If you listen to the college football pundits (especially those at ESPN and CBS) you might think the Oklahoma defense was the subject of one of the old-school Friar’s Club roasts.
The Sooners’ defensive flaws have been examined and analyzed ad nauseam, and no doubt some of that criticism is beyond justified with poor performances in several Big 12 games, but there are reasons to believe this team might just have a decent performance in it in the coming National Semifinal against Alabama.
Nobody is saying the Sooners are going to shut down the Crimson Tide on Saturday Night in the Orange Bowl, there are a few reasons to believe they might be able to slow them down – at least enough for the Sooners’ historically-great offense to take the advantage.
The Sooners are still very young on that side of the ball
Oklahoma had just one senior (linebacker Curtis Bolton) in the two-deep starting lineup entering their Big 12 Championship game against Texas. They could get a second senior back in safety Khalil Haughton should he return from injury in the Orange Bowl, but he has missed the last three games of the season, forcing the Sooner to trot out three cornerbacks against Texas.
According to the Sooners’ website, there are three true freshmen scheduled to start against Alabama in defensive end Ronnie Perkins, strong safety Delarrin Turner-Yell and nickle Berndan Radley Hiles. Four more starters are sophomores in cornerbacks Tre Brown, and Tre Norwood, linebacker Kenneth Murray and safety Robert Barnes. It should also be worth noting that none of those players have the benefit of a redshirt year.
Many of these players have made spectacular plays throughout the 2018 season, flashing the potential that has them earning playing time over older veteran guys. We’ve seen individual young players take massive steps forward in the layoff between the regular season and bowl games in the past. Could we see this group use this time to turn potential into results and start living up to the hype they all received coming out of high school?