OU football: Alex Grinch says watching video of the Sooners' defense, 'you see a brand'
NORMAN — Alex Grinch didn’t get a great night’s sleep Tuesday.
“There’s a lot of things we’ve got to get corrected,” the OU defensive coordinator said Wednesday in a Zoom conference with reporters. “There was a screen play yesterday that kept me up last night.”
But a day after the Sooners’ first scrimmage in a preseason camp unlike any other, Grinch — and his players — are settling into a sense of normality even when nothing else is normal.
For Grinch, that starts with just getting to coach again with a season to look forward to.
“For us, getting on the field with the guys and practices with the addition of wearing a mask and we attack the opportunity every day to get better and all those things,” Grinch said. “Maybe a little bit in some ways more normal than you’d think, but certainly, there is a little bit of a cloud over everything.”
That cloud, of course, is the COVID-19 pandemic that has already pushed OU’s season back to Sept. 12 and potentially further.
It’s caused football coaches like Grinch, who are used to structure, at least with their schedules, to be more flexible.
But it’s also led to an appropriation for being back with the team and in practice.
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“Not to sound too euphoric about it, but just the sheer joy by players and coaches alike now going back a couple weeks (to the start of preseason camp),” Grinch said. “There is a reason why you chose to be a football coach, to actually be out on the field with the guys and coaching the game. There’s also a reason these guys chose to be football players and come to a place like Oklahoma.”
That sense of normality with the players extends to how they’ve worked in Grinch’s defense.
A year ago, Grinch’s “Speed D” scheme was all new to the Sooners.
In their second year, even with abbreviated preparation to this point, Grinch said the differences are obvious.
They stood out when Grinch reviewed Tuesday’s first scrimmage of camp.
“When you watch the video you see a brand,” Grinch said. “You see a defense that guys understand where they need to be. You see guys playing with tremendous effort. Probably the best way to describe it is I enjoyed watching the film, right?”
So Grinch could afford to swarm in the minutiae of a screen play that his defense struggled to defend in the scrimmage.
Without typical spring practices and a full offseason of work, there are still areas that concern Grinch a little more than three weeks before the season opener against Missouri State.
“The tackling was very poor,” Grinch said. “To be expected, but by the same token let’s not make excuses. That’s something that we obviously have to attack.”
One of the biggest challenges, Grinch said, of the rest of camp is preparing his group physically with making sure not to put too much on players who haven’t had the traditional acclimation period.
“They’re in condition. OK, but are they in condition to go through a full practice with contact and all those things?” Grinch said. “We’ve only had X number of days in pads, not as many as you almost feel like you should the number of times we’ve been working. So that’s something that’s going to continue to get cranked up as we go.”