Texas Football: 3 problematic Sooners players vs. Longhorns

Dillon Gabriel
Dillon Gabriel /
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Danny Stutsman
Danny Stutsman /

Danny Stutsman, LB

The Oklahoma defense is one of the most improved units in the Big 12 early this season. After ranking in the bottom three in the Big 12 last season in yards per play allowed (5.7), passing yards (273.5), points allowed per game (30.0), and defensive efficiency, Oklahoma has emerged as one of the best defenses in the conference this fall.

Oklahoma leads the Big 12 this season in points allowed per game (10.8), yards per play (4.6), and turnovers forced per game (2.4). Oklahoma’s defense has improved thanks to the easy schedule to open the season, better tackling, and more depth at all levels.

The emergence of key linebackers and defensive backs, such as junior standout Danny Stutsman, junior safety Billy Bowman Jr., and sophomore corner Gentry Williams, has also improved Oklahoma’s defense.

Oklahoma’s best defensive player is the 6-foot-3 and 230-pound Stutsman.

Stutsman is leading the way for the Sooners defense, leading the team in total tackles (49), tackles for loss (nine), sacks (two), and defensive stops (22). He is also the highest-graded defender for the Sooners this season.

The third-year linebacker is having a career year while standing out in multiple phases of the game. He’s effectively getting after opposing quarterbacks, getting 10 quarterback pressures, two sacks, and two QB hits on 43 pass-rushing snaps this season. Venables likes to send Stutsman on some delayed inside blitzes to get opposing quarterbacks to the ground.

Stutsman is also a rock in run defense. He’s the third highest-graded Big 12 linebacker in run defense this season, registering over a half-dozen tackles for loss and 17 run stops. Stutsman leads Big 12 linebackers in run stops and run stuffs this season.

Lastly, Stutsman is a quality weakside backer in coverage. He’s instinctual patrolling the flats in pass coverage, allowing just 64 receiving yards on seven catches, no touchdowns, and one interception in coverage assignments this season.

Sark was complimentary of Stutsman’s ability in his Monday press conference on Oct. 2. He tabbed Stutsman as the “playmaker” linebacker who stands out in pass coverage and rushing the passer for Venables and the Sooners.