It’s no secret despite their potent offense in recent years, Oklahoma has been held back by their lack-luster defense. To remedy this, Oklahoma hired Alex Grinch after the 2018 season.
Grinch has an extremely impressive resume and appears to be just what OU needs. Grinch spent 2018 as Ohio states co-defensive coordinator and safeties coach where the team went 13-1. Before that Grinch was the defensive coordinator and secondaries coach for Washington state. Before his arrival in 2014, the Washington State Cougars ranked 99th nationally in total defense (442.3 ypg), 127th in pass defense (296.6 ypg) and 127th in turnovers gained (8). In 2017, he presided over a WSU unit that ranked 16yh in total defense (323.3 ypg), ninth in turnovers gained (28). With that track record it’s easy to see why Grinch is regarded as one of the best young defensive minds in the NCAA.
Alex Grinch at OU spring practice
Despite not having any games as a Sooner under his belt, it appears Grinch is already building a foundation at OU. Grinch’s coaching philosophies are grounded in competition. A philosophy that I can definitely get behind. I think competition brings out the best in ourselves and our teammates in life. Earlier this preseason, Grinch refered to the 2019 season as a “clean slate” where every start will be earned. I think this approach fairs well for the Sooners defense who has loads of talent but was never able to gel. Hitting the reset button could do just that.
A philosophy is great but what evidence do we have he is putting that philosophy to work and laying a solid foundation? For starters, the support of head coach Lincoln Riley is a good indication. Riley has stated that there is an increased sense of urgency by the defense since Grinch’s arrival. This coincides with what players are saying as well. In April CB Tre Brown had this to say when asked about how Grinch’s coaching philosophies have meshed with OU’s defense.
“When he started putting punishments out for some things that we let slide in the past, that’s when we knew it was gonna be different,” Brown said. “We’re not letting anything get away. He’s gonna preach it and he’s not gonna let anything pass.” – Tre Brown
It sounds like a little tough love is going a long way as far as motivation in the locker room.
So Grinch has his head coach and current players on board. Sure that’s great, but the best indication of Grinch’s foundation laying is his success with recruitng. Getting young men fresh out of high school to buy into your program is a great indication of a system with a strong foundation. We witnessed this on Independence day when a top 20 DB Bryson Washington verbally commited to OU. Washington explained Grinch was one of the reasons he chose OU over other programs like Texas, Bama, Auburn, and more.
“I picked Oklahoma because it’s a great school and I think I would be a great fit with Coach Grinch.”
Washington joins defensive backs Ryan Watts and Dantae Manning in what’s shaping up to be a defensively sound 2020 recruiting class.
All in all, it appears Grinch is already having some success at OU which could have long lasting effects on the program. Time will tell if his ability to get players to buy in will translate to tallies in the win column, but I’m feeling optimistic heading into the 2019 season.
“Pull into Ruby Tuesday’s, rap game Oklahoma Sooners”