Ethan Downs putting together a strong 2023 for the Oklahoma Sooners

What a season Ethan Downs is putting together for the Oklahoma Sooners. Downs was someone many thought could be replaced as a starter before this season after the defense struggled as a whole in 2022.

Instead, Downs has been one of the best and most improved players on the entire roster. Downs has 23 tackles on the year. He’s second on the team with 6.0 tackles for loss and first on the team with 4.5 sacks matching his 2022 season total in just seven games.

He talked to reporters about the improvement he’s seen in his game so far. “With Brent Venables’ defense, you do your job and make plays,” Downs said. “It falls into your lap and particularly at the defensive end position as well. Just try to focus on my hands, feet, eyes, all of those disciplines, try to be the most disciplined as I can. Knowing the plays. Grading out, as we call it, when we have our plays, we grade out positive and try to grade out every single day. Just being right where I’m supposed to be.”

That’s something Downs has done an exceptional job at so far this season. He’s someone who has really benefited from the experience he gained in this scheme last year.

The junior defensive end had a strong finish to the 2022 regular season with a pair of sacks and seven tackles for loss over the final four games.

He’s been a great example for the rest of the squad. As he said, “You do your job and you make plays.” That will resonate throughout the locker room. Downs has done a great job sticking to his responsibilities, whether it’s setting the edge in the run game or maintaining contain in his rush assignment against some athletic quarterbacks.

He’s played incredibly disciplined football and has been a big reason for the Oklahoma Sooners’ year-to-year turnaround on defense.

In the preseason, Ethan Downs was named to the All-Big 12 team. He’s rewarded the confidence of the voters and is on pace for a career year. If he can keep this pace, he’ll contend for a spot on the postseason All-Big 12 squad.

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Story originally appeared on Sooners Wire