Oklahoma's defense was the punchline to every bad joke last year, and now it will be without one of its top players. Sooners defensive back Tre Norwood suffered a knee injury in practice on Wednesday, and on Friday, coach Lincoln Riley confirmed the worst as Norwood will miss the entire 2019 season recovering from the injury.
It's another shot to a defense that needs all the help that it can get. The 6-foot-4, 180-pounder form Fort Smith, Arkansas, started all 14 games in the defensive backfield in 2018, primarily at cornerback. He had 58 tackles, two for loss, one sack, one interception and five pass breakups for a defense that finished dead last in the nation in pass defense (294 YPG). Despite the rank, Norwood showed up big when it counted, according to Pro Football Focus.
Norwood was excited to contribute to a new-look Sooners defense under first-year coordinator Alex Grinch.
"(No. 129) is just one of those types of things that is a motivation because we get tired of hearing it but as a defense we know what we were last year," Norwood said, according to OUDaily.com. "We can't change the past so we just have to do each and every thing to keep moving forward and improve in the future."
Norwood played cornerback, nickel and safety last year. If he is out for an extended period of time, Grinch will have to get creative with how he structures his secondary. Sophomore Brendan Radley-Hiles would likely step in at nickel, and junior Jordan Parker will likely get more playing time at cornerback depending on how Grinch reshuffles his secondary in Norwood's absence.
Oklahoma will host Houston on Sept. 1 at 7:30 p.m. ET to open the 2019 season.