Some things are better solved with simplistic answers instead of trying to overcomplicate things. In the case of the current state of the Oklahoma Sooners defense, they simply need to get it done.
After a horrible showing for over half of the game in Lawrence, Kansas the Sooners found a way to make enough plays to get out of there with a win.
Now, they return home and face a Texas Tech offense that is far from a slouch and has some players that can make this game a headache for Oklahoma.
Texas Tech ranks second in the Big 12 behind Oklahoma in passing offense, and senior quarterback Henry Columbi has a big (literally) receiving weapon in 6-foot, 3-inch Eric Ezukanma, who will tower over the smaller OU defensive backs that Oklahoma is bound to send out there.
Senior Kaylon Geiger is their other main wide receiving threat and he has over 400 yards receiving to this point as well.
Their running game has guys like SaRodorick Thompson and Tahj Brooks, who both have over 300 yards and at least four touchdowns on the season.
Who are the three defensive players that can help out Oklahoma this week taking on this multi-faceted and talented Texas Tech offense? Take a look below.
Up Next: Redmond Returning
Jalen Redmond, DL
The Sooners defensive coaches have to be jumping up and down. A key cog and starter on this defensive line returns in Jalen Redmond.
He suffered a knee injury during the Nebraska game on Sept. 22 and has been out since. He warmed up before the Sooners played Kansas but was ultimately only available if an “emergency” situation happened.
He’s back and that was confirmed by the head coach himself.
Why is it such a big deal? Oklahoma has just one sack in its last two games. Redmond allows for Isaiah Thomas to spend a little bit more time outside rushing the passer from the edge instead of rushing from the inside where his speed can be negated by the sheer bulk in there.
Redmond is a talented interior pass rusher and that will be vital against Colombi and this Tech offense who will try and attack the weakest part of this Sooners defense, which is the secondary.
Alex Grinch and Lincoln Riley publicly have challenged their defensive line to be better and they got a massive piece back. Watch for Redmond to have an impact Saturday against Tech.
Up Next: Safety Play will be Key
Key Lawrence, DB
It’s not hyperbole to suggest Key Lawrence has the highest ceiling of anyone in the Oklahoma secondary. He took a while to get adjusted to the Speed D scheme but he’s starting to play instinctive, attacking football in the absence of Delarrin Turner-Yell.
Lawrence will likely give way back to Turner-Yell when Yell is healthy but there’s no reason Lawrence should leave the field with the way he’s starting to play. Rumors have swirled about Lawrence getting looks at cornerback this week and while that’s interesting to say the least, the most important thing is Lawrence deserves to be on the field right now.
There’s no definitive answer as to who should give up snaps but Fields is the suggestion I would lean to as Delarrin Turner-Yell offers you more at strong safety. It’ll be interesting to see what happens with Lawrence this week. If he sees the field, there’s a good bet, he’s going to continue making plays.
Up Next: Time for the Stars to Lead the Way
Nik Bonitto, RUSH
Nik Bonitto belongs on this list every week to be quite honest. He’s played well in virtually every game this season but this week he specifically spoke on how he takes full blame and leaders on the defense should take blame for how the defense has played.
That’s something a real leader does despite him individually playing well. It takes all 11 guys on the defense to hold each other accountable to do their job. Bonitto is one of the guys the team relies on for leadership and when he says something it resonates.
Bonitto will look to set the tone himself hoping others fall in line this week. Look for a very disruptive Nik Bonitto this week despite him likely getting double teamed and chipped almost every play.