You could sense that this defense, who would be returning essentially 10 starters for 2009, was going to be good when they held the potent Florida Gators attack to only 24 points in the BCS championship game - picking off Tim Tebow twice after he had only been picked off twice all year.
They dominated the Red-White game, winning 63-36 under Bob Stoops' scoring system for the Spring football games that rewards the defense and offense for doing certain things right. The Sooners rattled off 126 plays in front of over 28,000 people at Owen Field.
With that, let's go over some positives and negatives, more thorough analysis to come at a later time:
Sam Bradford looked sharp as usual. He led an 11 play, 71 yard scoring drive that ended with a 23 yard TD pass to Adron Tennell. Bradford's final stat line: 11-13 for 97 yards, 1 TD and 0 INT in very limited action.
"Sam has been exceptional like always and Adron has had a great spring," Stoops said. "He is really starting to step up and make plays consistently."
The starting offensive line showed some flashes. Trent Williams, Brian Simmons, Cory Brandon and Ben Habern all started as expected. However, Brian Lepak was a surprise start at left guard. I guess all the talk about him having a good spring is true. They still have some work to do though (that will be addressed below).
The defense swarmed to the ball and not a lot of the safeties or corners have great stat lines because the defensive line and the linebackers were so dominant. Mike Balogun and J.R. Bryant (reserve linebackers) has 6 tackles apiece including a tackle for a loss. Frank Alexander had 5.5 tackles which includes 3 sacks and 2.5 tackles behind the line. Jeremy Beal had 2 sacks and a forced fumble. It was pretty amazing to see the front seven work. The safeties seemed to not get tested a lot, and when they were, all the quarterbacks were throwing away from Sam Proctor's side (good to see). Quinton Carter was out of the game early, maybe they're resting him, maybe they're trying to keep him from headhunting his own team.
Speaking of vicious hits, LB J.R. Bryant laid a big one on TE Trent Ratterree, which unfortunately caused Trent's shoulder to get injured. He was icing it on the sideline later. I don't have any other info there. Tom Wort also laid a big lick on Jermie Calhoun.
The offensive line definitely lost the battle in the trenches. Granted, they were going up against an excellent defensive line, but still there was a lot left to be desired. The first string offensive line looked OK, but on the first series gave up sacks on 2nd and 3rd down. Not good. The running game was stagnant, probably because Calhoun and Johnson are a little green. They looked a little uncertain hitting the holes. The other problem was there were times where there weren't any holes, just a lot of defenders staring them in the face. Like I said, at times it wasn't pretty, but that could just be our defensive line's talent.
Tress Way started off the game not punting so well. To his credit, he recovered with some better punts towards the end. The punts going from north to south ran into a little breeze and seemed to die as they got about 25-30 yards down field.
All in all, it was a good spring game. The limited showing we saw of the first string offense with most of the pieces in place (minus Chris Brown, Jermaine Gresham, Matt Clapp, Brody Eldridge and DeMarco Murray) was encouraging. They moved the ball pretty well despite the offensive attack being much less diverse without all of those guys in. The biggest thing was that the defense showed up to play. They swarmed to the ball. The defensive line got great pressure. Venables showed that he is going to blitz this year. The linebackers have great lateral speed. The backup linebackers looked great and linebacker depth should be stellar this year. Our offense will put points on the board when all of the guys are healthy and playing. It was nice to see our defense will be a huge factor too.