Saturday, June 10, 2023

247Sports asks if Oklahoma Sooners can step up secondary

Any doubts are largely due to losses on the defensive side of football after the Oklahoma Sooners prepared for the start of spring practice on March 22. Oklahoma lost five starts to the NFL and Pat Fields was transferred to Stanford. Departures of Delarine Turner-Yale and Fields cut a massive lead void at the back end of the Sooners defence.

247Sports reporter Chris Hummer has a burning question as Oklahoma enters its 2022 season: Can Sooners step up secondary?

With so much new to Norman this spring, there are many pressing questions. The quarterback will be under the microscope. So will the O-line, wide receiver depth and defensive planning. But if continued weakness remains for Oklahoma, it is secondary. Oklahoma Anytime 58. not in a better place thanth Per game passing yards were allowed under the Lincoln Riley, and the team 109. fell toth Last year after moderate improvement in the last two sessions.

Can it improve next year? Perhaps. But Brent Venables will have to operate with similar personnel. There are two losses in safety with Delrayn Turner-Yale and Pat Fields advancing. Turner-Yale was probably the best player in the secondary and Fields was probably the worst. As for the returning cornerback, they are all back. There is also North Carolina transfer Trey Morrison, who projects to play safety, and Wyoming cornerback transfer CJ Colden.

Colden and Morrison are experienced grinds close to the locks for two-deep. But the ceiling of this room will be determined by small pieces taking one step. Can Key Lawrence and Billy Bowman emerge as difference makers? Will DJ Graham and Woody Washington be better at cornerbacks after an up-and-down debut season as starters? Can young players like Kanye Walker, Jaden Rowe and Robert Spears-Jennings make a move? Those questions will define Sooners’ axiom. – Hummer, 247 games.

This is a fair question. As Hummer points out, Oklahoma allowed passes in 109th place nationally, as the Sooners surrendered 261.8 passing yards per game and 26 passing touchdowns in the season. By comparison, the two top passing defenses in the Big 12 last season were Iowa State and Oklahoma State. The Cyclones finished 11th nationally, with just 188.2 passing yards per game, while the Cowboys finished 36th nationally, allowing 210.2 yards per game.

One good news for Oklahoma is that new head coach Brent Venables comes with a pedigree of building strong defenses annually. It must provide some form of immediate boost. Clemson’s defense ranked 34th nationally in 2021 after surrendering just 209.2 passing yards per game.

OU has a lot of options on the back end of its defense. Cornerbacks are boosted by the returns of both starters in DJ Graham and Woody Washington. CJ Colden hails from Wyoming where he recorded 68 tackles and 10 pass breakups in 2021.

Key Lawrence showed serious shine last season at both cornerback and safety. It’s likely he’ll be in a safer place with Justin Broiles. Morrison is another interesting option in the OU’s defensive backfield. He made his debut for North Carolina last year in both safety and nickel backs.

Oklahoma also brings in cornerbacks from Jaden Davis and Joshua Eaton as well as the signings of Gentry Williams and Jaden Rowe. In safety, Sooners also returned Jordan Mukes and Bryson Washington and signed Robert Spears-Jennings. Defensive back Jamarion Burt also signed with Oklahoma.

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