OU coach wants safety Jefferson to improve
Jan 03, 2013 (The Eagle - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
Oklahoma safety Tony Jefferson could only admit Tuesday that his defensive coordinator, Mike Stoops, has some grand expectations of his junior star.
"He's pretty tough on me," Jefferson said.
But Stoops said that there is a method to his madness.
"He has a chance to be special, and getting him to understand the little things -- the finer things that make players great -- has always been my struggle with Tony," Stoops said.
Stoops moved Jefferson to a more traditional free safety role when he returned to Norman, Okla., after being fired as head coach at Arizona. Stoops designed the defense to funnel a lot of the mess to Jefferson, who has the ability to clean it up.
But down the stretch, OU's defense struggled mightily. In the last four games of the regular season, the Sooners gave up an average of 510.5 yards and 37 points per game.
Jefferson leads the Sooners with 113 tackles this season, garnering second-team All-America honors. And he says that wasn't really 100 percent, playing the majority of the season with a bum ankle he sprained in September.
"You know, you get a high ankle sprain, it takes about six-to-eight weeks to heal," Jefferson said. "I didn't really get a chance to do it because we had a game every week. But it's not about being injured and stuff. You've got to fight through those type of things."
Stoops compared Jefferson to the Pittsburgh Steelers' Troy Polamalu because he loves to rough it up inside the box. However, he said sometimes that overagressiveness can sometimes get a safety in big trouble. For that reason, Stoops said that Jefferson could use some more training in college rather than declaring for the NFL draft after the Cotton Bowl.
"Technique is a big part of being a great player ... and vision, training your eyes to see the right things," he said. "He understands. He has good common sense. That's important. He understands strengths and weaknesses and where he needs to improve."
Jefferson said he's yet to make a decision regarding his future. Before he can do that, the anchor of the underperforming unit will have the tough task of containing Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel.
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