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Dean's List: OU's Striker, Tapper Talk Personal Expectations

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If Oklahoma is going to bounce back with a strong season in 2015 the defense must make significant improvement. I’ll be surprised if under new OC Lincoln Riley the offense isn’t much better than the inconsistent and killer-turnover-prone one that trotted out in 2014. So, what is key to football’s version of the PGA Tour bogey-birdie bounceback stat? It may surprise you.

BACK-END LOOKED LIKE DELTS VS. BETA FLAG FOOTBALL

Clearly, the secondary must cover people better what’s seen on Greek Row in the Delt v Beta flag football scrum.  A new voice and perspective from Notre Dame addition Kerry Cooks should help. The new secondary coach has apparently blended in well and has seen two players – safety Steven Parker and cornerback Jordan Thomas -- separate themselves as potential standouts. They’ll need a handful of others emerge if they expect to slow Tennessee, Mason Rudolph, Trevone Boykin and Baylor’s latest fireballer, Seth Russell.

NFL MONEY TALKS WHILE B.S. WALKS

But while secondary improvement is a must, so is the play of a few veterans up front, where motivation should not be lacking for at least a tandem of well-known names. Outside linebacker Eric Striker and DL Charles Tapper are playing for more than their team, their coaches and their school (assuming playing for the name on the helmet is still considered an inspiring factor). They, and rejuvenated LB Frank Shannon, are playing the ‘Eye in the Sky;’ the video tape NFL scouts will dissect frame-by-frame when they are deciding the value of players. Money talks and BS walks.

Striker was very good at times again in 2014, but he can play better. Much of that is on the coaches, who seem to now better understand where to take advantage of the vocal leader’s unique skillset. Tapper is also a popular cat with mates, media and fans. But he didn’t play to his billing or to his potential in a disastrous five-loss season. Coaches tell me they also are adjusting how they can better utilize the Baltimore product’s talent. Schematically, Tapper will be in better places to make the plays he’s shown he’s capable of consistently making. And the nasty truth is that Tapper’s effort level was unacceptable snap to whistle – every play he was on the field last autumn. A bad indictment for a good guy. The combination of being called out for subpar effort and the fact he’s playing for his future livelihood should result in significant progress.

MUST SEE INTERVIEW WITH A TANDEM OF FAVES

I hope you enjoy our interview with Strike and Tap from Saturday’s Media Day. Regardless of how many Ws and Ls they leave Norman with, they’ve been two of the best for me and other media to deal with in a long time. Check out the video, and it’ll be obvious.

See you at 6 and 10!

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