Thursday, March 11, 2010
Sooner safeties far from 'loaded'
By ESPN.com staff
NORMAN, Okla. -- Oklahoma defensive coordinator Brent Venables said he'd heard talk of the Sooners being "loaded" at safety. Admitting his team had potential at the position, Venables says the term doesn't apply to the last line of the defense.
"Loaded means that you have a ton of guys that have played and played a lot and played really good. To me, to us in this building," Venables said. So we’re far from it."
Oklahoma returns both starting safeties from a year ago, junior Sam Proctor and hard-hitting senior Quinton Carter. Senior Jonathan Nelson will most likely start at corner this season, but he also started at safety late in 2009, notching 11 tackles against Texas Tech and picking off passes in each of the Sooners' final three games.
Sophomores Marcus Trice and Joseph Ibiloye have also showed promise. Trice appeared in all 13 games last season, and blocked a punt against Idaho State. Ibiloye, at 6-foot-3 and 208 pounds, played some linebacker as a freshman, but has moved back to safety in the spring. He had 15 tackles and also appeared in all 13 games.
"We’ve got a couple guys who have actually played and played pretty good, but not to an All-American level yet. Are they capable? Yes. But we’ve got to bring some young guys along," Venables said. "They're young guys and you recognize potential. We recognize performance."
Oklahoma ranked third in the conference in pass defense in 2009, allowing just under 180 yards per game and intercepting 18 passes. Opposing quarterbacks also completed just 53.7 percent of their passes, the second-lowest in the Big 12.
"So, again, there's a lot of those guys getting reps right now, but we’re not loaded," Venables said. "We’re trying to find the right mix of guys and get them experience while we can here in the spring.