OU vs. Utah State Recap - Defense

I'm not sure who has it worse off, me having to recap our defensive performance or CC who has to try and explain what happened with our offense.  We knew going into Saturday night that the Aggies had a powerful offense, but I don't think anyone expected OU's defense to be exposed as badly as they were.  

Check out the coroner's report after the jump.

When virtually every aspect of your defense performed as poorly as OU's did where exactly do you start?  We'll go from bad to worse in that order.

Defensive Line:

The OU defensive line was unable to get consistent pressure all night long and because of that fact, Utah State made play after play.  Jeremy Beal was the only standout while a few other guys, Stacey McGee and Casey Walker, had flashes but nowhere near as consistent as they needed to be.  David King, R.J. Washington, and Jarmarkus McFarland were basically non-existent and if that is the case next week against Florida State we could be in serious trouble.  The d-line pressured Borel on several occasions only to see him squeak out of what seemed like a sure sack.  Seemed like that happened a bunch of times and then he'd complete a long pass after what looked like a positive play for the defense.  The ability of our line to get pressure on the QB was one of the things I was the most confident in and they showed me tonight I might have been a little ahead of myself.

Linebacker:

This unit was the cause of plenty of excitement heading into the opener, so maybe our expectations were a little too high after witnessing their performance Saturday night.  Travis Lewis is a constant, so not much to report there.  Tom Wort struggled (at least in my opinion) drawing two terrible personal foul penalties and winding up out of position due to over committing on several plays.  Ronnell Lewis' playing time was fairly limited due to the Utah State spread, necessitating The Hammer to spend most of his time at DE.  He did pick up his first career sack and one big hit on kickoff coverage, but hopefully he can have more of an impact next week against FSU.  At one point Travis Lewis had to leave with an injury (he came right back in two plays later), so he was replaced by true frosh Corey Nelson (bye bye redshirt).  Jaydan Bird also got in briefly after Wort was pulled off due to his two stupid penalties. 

Defensive Backs:

Aside from DT, the corner back spot was the position of greatest concern for the Sooner defense heading into 2010.  Their performance tonight showed exactly why that is as they were burned all night long.  Jamell Fleming had a horrible game (despite getting a late INT) and for some reason constantly let Utah State WRs behind him on 3rd down passes.  He is going to get picked on all year long if he doesn't improve significantly.  Demontre Hurst played really well for the most part, but he was also beat deep on a long Utah State TD pass.  Despite struggling mightily, I don't believe either Gabe Lynn or Aaron Colvin ever saw the field and it I was thoroughly confused by that fact.  Not sure how much worse the CBs would have had to play before Stoops/Martinez thought "Hmm, maybe we should try somebody else out there."

OU's safeties were supposed to be a position we could lean on with two seniors manning the starting spots.  Quinton Carter played well picking off a pass and played well in run support.  Jon Nelson struggled in coverage getting beat badly for a long Utah State TD (notice a theme here yet?) after taking a poor route to the ball and falling down before making a tackle.  Javon Harris got quite a few snaps as well, coming in for Nelson after a couple of his mistakes.  The lone bright spot here in my opinion was true freshman nickel DB Tony Jefferson.  Jefferson started the game and made several nice plays breaking up a pass with a big hit and another where he made a great open field tackle on the incredibly elusive (at least how our defense made him look) Utah State QB.

Summary:

The entire defensive backfield seemed to struggle all night finding the ball in the air and just looked lost on way too many occasions.  After watching FSU put up a ton of points this afternoon, I can't help but worry about next week.  This defense has A LOT to work on during practice this week to be ready for the Seminoles.  Christian Ponder isn't quite as mobile as Diondre Borel (something tells me OU fans will remember this kid's name for quite awhile), but he is definitely capable of scrambling around and making plays.  So if we aren't more disciplined, we could be looking at the same kind of mistakes we made tonight.  The defense also tackled horribly all night long and need to spend plenty of time this week on wrapping up and making a sure tackle.  I think I heard at one point they gave up something like 8 plays of 20+ yards, which is beyond unacceptable against any opponent let alone a Utah State.

You can call it one game but given the level of competition and how easily Utah State was able to move the ball, I'd challenge anyone who says they aren't very worried heading into next week after what we just saw Saturday night.  This defense was supposed to be the strength of this team and they showed tonight they have a long way to go before that is the case.

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