|Moderated by: sybil, EMan, ClintA.Adams, ArmySooner|
|Alex Grinch’s mission – instill in the OU defense a winning belief
By Bill Haisten Tulsa World
On Nov. 21, 1998, as Oklahoma finished a third consecutive losing season, then-Tulsa World columnist Bill Connors wrote this from the Memorial Stadium press box: “Oklahoma’s football decisions in the last decade could be a textbook on how to dismantle a dynasty. The Sooners made all the mistakes.
“They fell behind in facilities, got into trouble with the NCAA, lost players to prison, ran off their winningest coach, hired unsuitable successors, recruited poorly, evaluated poorly and mismanaged personnel.”
The next day, OU regents voted to end John Blake’s three-year run as the Sooners head coach. His teams were 3-8 in 1996, 4-8 in 1997 and 5-6 in 1998.
As Connors speculated on possible candidates, there was this in his penultimate paragraph: “The hot prospect is Florida defensive coordinator Bob Stoops.”
Ten days later, 38-year-old Bob Stoops became OU’s head coach. His co-defensive coordinators were 37-year-old Mike Stoops and 28-year-old Brent Venables.
Inheriting a roster that actually did have some talent — particularly on the defensive side — the Stoops brothers and Venables applied their maniacal energy and drive. Results were immediately positive.
Twenty years ago, the entire OU program was broken.
Today, one aspect of the OU program is dysfunctional.
The defense is beyond broken. It’s in tatters.
After the 2018 season ended with Clemson’s stunning mugging of Alabama for the national championship, the Sooners’ national defensive rankings were set in stone: 114th in total defense and 130th (dead last) in pass offense.
In spite of that defense, OU captured a fourth consecutive Big 12 title and made a third appearance in the College Football Playoff.
Fresh leadership resulted in a historic 1998-1999-2000 turnaround for the Oklahoma program. Subsequent to the 12-22 mess of the Blake years, there was Bob Stoops’ seven-win finish in ’99 and 13-0 national championship in 2000.
Now, with the hiring of 38-year-old defensive coordinator Alex Grinch as OU’s defensive coordinator, head coach Lincoln Riley hopes to replicate what Mike Stoops and Venables achieved at the front end of the Bob Stoops era.
Until Grinch is settled and has a comprehensive knowledge of returning and incoming personnel, there’s no way to know exactly how the 2019 defense will look. This is a certainty, though: Grinch will attack this restoration project with daily shots of energy.
The 1998 Sooners defense had really good players like linebacker Rocky Calmus, safety Ontei Jones and linemen Corey Callens, Ryan Fisher and Jeremy Wilson-Guest. They knew how to play, but they didn’t know how to win.
The ’98 Sooners lost 34-3 to Texas. The Longhorns averaged nearly 7 yards per play.
At the Cotton Bowl two years later, Calmus, Jones, Callens, Fisher and Wilson-Guest were on the field for a 63-14 annihilation of Texas.
As a freshman and sophomore, Calmus endured losses to Texas. As a junior, he scored on a 41-yard interception return that gave OU a 35-0 lead.
When time expired on the 49-point mismatch, the former Jenks superstar glanced at the Cotton Bowl scoreboard.
“That was more than I expected,” Calmus told a Tulsa World reporter.
With Grinch calling the shots defensively, it’s not ridiculous to expect immediately and substantially better play from OU defenders who in 2018 were inconsistent or ineffective.
At Washington State, Grinch achieved an impressive defensive makeover. At Oklahoma, he’ll have better players and recruit better players.
Riley, Grinch, the defensive staff and strength coach Bennie Wylie will commit this offseason and spring-practice period to toughening Sooners defenders physically while bolstering their self-esteem. Months of criticism had to result in considerable scar tissue.
By the start of preseason camp, and by kickoff of the opener against the Dana Holgorsen-coached Houston Cougars, Sooners defenders will be armed with the belief that they’re better than before.
There also has to be an unwavering emphasis on the basics of tackling and coverage, but it’s impossible to overstate the value of belief.
If you could return to 1998 and ask Rocky Calmus whether he felt destined to win a national title, the honest answer would have been no. Those ’98 Sooners couldn’t beat Oklahoma State. What would compel anyone to expect imminent greatness?
The tidal wave of Bob Stoops-Mike Stoops-Brent Venables energy changed the Oklahoma defense and everything else in the program.
Grinch’s job description: “Delete the memory of the 2018 season. Flood the building with confidence. Make these guys tougher and instill in them the belief that OU can win games because of its defense — and not in spite of it.”
|Is Grinch here yet?
|Rob and Rex Ryan both had an immediate big time impact at the state schools. I think Grinch will have a similar impact sans being #6 in the nation in total defense in a single off-season. Too early for that and need to bolster the defensive front.
Rob and Rex Ryan both had an immediate big time impact at the state schools. I think Grinch will have a similar impact sans being #6 in the nation in total defense in a single off-season. Too early for that and need to bolster the defensive front.
I think the good news is that the defense doesn't have to be #6 next year. #50 with the offense at 75% of where it was this season means another playoff appearance and quite realistically, a win. (IMHO).
I think this article hits the nail on the head, as just getting these guys some confidence by teaching the basics to them should help immensely. Relying on talent alone doesn't work on the defensive side of the ball.
OU's defense was closer to the 50 range in 2017 and still gave up a bunch to Georgia.
OU does't need to be top 5, 10, 15 or 20, but at worst, should be top 25 on any given season and anything better than that will be gravy.
|From Brainiacs site, on the Grinch's defensive philosophy.
Sourced | Grinch’s Defense & Recruiting
– Super K
A couple things I found interesting that I heard today in a conversation with a source.
***Grinch’s defense is very simple. It’s an attacking style defense but its apparently something where the most important thing is recruiting and culture. It’s not particularly complicated to teach or learn. Hence the hire of guys who don’t have a ton of experience.
It’ll be interesting to see if this kind of Air-Raid philosophy defense can do well in a league like the Big 12 where they’re going to find your weakness.
If the recruiting is good, then there won’t be one.
***Also sounds as though under Grinch the Sooners are going to be targeting bigger guys across the board. One source said secondary is going to look like trees.
Have to imagine Ohio State had an impact on Grinch in that regard.
I will add though that Kerry Cooks wanted the same thing but found it difficult for those guys to cover in the Big 12.
But, the old defense was obviously more conservative. If you’re going to force guys to get the ball out of their hand then you’ll want guys who can stay square from a press position or a guy who can get downhill in a hurry from an off coverage position and smack you.