In Lincoln Riley’s two years as head coach of Oklahoma, the Sooners have seen unparalleled brilliance on offense. But defensively, the team has been woefully lacking, and it’s cost them in some big games.
Speaking to Tulsa World over the weekend, Riley has given Sooners fans reason to believe that things will improve in 2019 and beyond. He credited newly-hired defensive coordinator Alex Grinch with building the defense into one that’s more competitive.
“I think there’s momentum. There’s hope. There’s energy. We’ve got a lot of (veteran defensive players) – guys who’ve been a part of good teams. They want to be the strength of this team. And then you’ve got some really talented newcomers who are excited about our direction, too. You can feel the momentum of the change. Alex and the defensive staff have done a nice job of building that momentum. You can see it starting to come together.”
Despite boasting the No. 1 scoring offense in college football last season, Oklahoma’s defense ranked a paltry 101st, allowing over 33 points per game. The year before was only slightly better as the defense was ranked 68th in the country while allowing over 27 points per game.
It should come as little surprise that Oklahoma’s four losses came against teams that managed to score at least 38 points on them.
Despite their defensive struggles though, Oklahoma has had little problem cruising to back-to-back Big 12 titles and spots in the College Football Playoff.
But even though they were largely able to keep pace with Georgia and Alabama in the CFP, their defense ultimately let them down.
Could Oklahoma’s defense be poised to turn the corner this coming season?