The Oklahoma Sooners defensive line has been up and down all season long. They have never been able to consistently bring a pass rush.
A big part of that is they don’t have a dominant pass rusher on the team. They have some guys with a lot of potential like R Mason Thomas and Adepoju Adebawore but those guys still need time to develop.
But a big misconception is sacks are what determine how good a defensive line is or isn’t. Sacks definitely help, and you need to get pressure on the quarterback, but there are so many other ways a defensive line can dominate. Mainly in the run game.
The Sooners currently rank No. 7 in the country in tackles for loss. They also rank No. 47 in rush defense after playing four teams in the top 17 in the country and the nation’s leading rusher. That’s pretty good. It’s not great, but it’s pretty good.
The issue is in the losses. They haven’t been as disruptive up front. They had six tackles for loss in those games combined. They average nearly eight per game. Last week against the West Virginia Mountaineers, they were back up at their average with eight tackles for loss.
Ethan Downs spoke with the media about how well the defensive line played. “We are trying to follow our keys, alignments, everything,” Downs said. “Be as crisp as possible so they can’t move the ball. I feel like we did a great job stopping the run, especially on that goal-line stop. We’re really proud of ourselves.”
Now, that performance needs to resurface this week in Provo as the Sooners get set to take on the BYU Cougars.