Claremore Daily Progress

Sports

January 14, 2013

FOOTBALL: Plenty of holes for Sooners to fix in 2013

(Continued)

NORMAN — Millard is a player who should be on the field for just about every snap. He wasn’t this season; that should change in his senior year.

There’s just too many things he does that helps teams win to have standing on the sideline for 20 offensive plays a game.

Use the linebackers more: There was a reason OU didn’t use them much this season. There weren’t any receivers they could cover in man-to-man coverage. But it left gapping holes in the run defense.

“It’s just where do you put your pieces? Are you gonna be stronger defending the pass or stronger defending the run? That’s the game everybody’s playing,” Stoops said. “We’ve got to find a better balance of it.”

The Sooners sank to 89th in the country in rush defense and not having linebackers on the field had a lot to do with it. Opponents exploited it throughout the second half of the season. OU never adjusted.

Embrace the underdog role: The 2013 Sooners won’t have the burden of preseason expectations that most of Stoops’ teams carried.

They won’t be the overwhelming pick to win the Big 12 title next season, and likely won’t start the year ranked in the top 10. They’re going to play some games they won’t be favored to win.

OU hasn’t had a team that really had to prove itself in the nation’s eyes since 2000. That team embraced the underdog role and rode it to a national championship.

“We didn’t seem very close when we had a shot at it in 2000,” Stoops said. “You never know when it’s coming. We’re gonna work hard for it, and we’ll try and make some improvements through the winter and spring and hopefully have a chance to be better next year.”

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