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September 12, 2013

OU secondary knew changes had to be made

NORMAN — There was no sense of denial with Oklahoma’s secondary following the 2012 season. The Sooner defensive backs knew there were problems that had to be fixed.

Physical issues could be handled in individual offseason workouts, but other matters took more of a collective effort.

Mainly, it was the collective effort that had to change.

“Quite frankly, we were soft last year,” OU safety Gabe Lynn said.

The senior, who was named the Big 12’s defensive player of the week after coming up with two turnovers in the 16-7 victory of West Virginia, didn’t mean the Sooners were weak physically. He described a defense that was just trying to get through games instead of win every snap.

Playing defense at the major college level requires much more than 11 really good athletes. It’s a unit that requires all 11 doing something that makes the sum bigger than the parts.

OU struggled to do that because of constant communication breakdowns.

“Last year we gave a lot of plays away just off of mental busts and relaying the wrong call to somebody,” nickelback Julian Wilson said.

Those busts creates easy plays for offenses. Receivers run around uncovered and running backs find gaping holes because of them.

Through two games, the 14th-ranked Sooners (2-0, 1-0 Big 12) have been much better in that area.

“It’s a big part of our defense. You have to communicate on any level,” OU defensive coordinator Mike Stoops said. “You saw the other night, I knew there would be a lot of movement in the game. There was movement on every play. They were moving a back out. They were moving a receiver across. Our rotations and communication as a secondary, I think we hit every one but maybe one out of 50 motions. We missed one or two, I think, out of the 45-whatever motions they had. Those were always a good sign as well.”

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