NORMAN, OK - NOVEMBER 26: Quarterback Jared Barnett #16 of the Iowa State Cyclones is tripped up by linebacker Tony Jefferson #1 of the Oklahoma Sooners November 26, 2011 at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium in Norman, Oklahoma. Oklahoma defeated Iowa State 26-6. (Photo by Brett Deering/Getty Images)
Had it not been for an incredibly bad gaffe by Oklahoma's defense on Saturday afternoon the Sooners would have pitched a shutout of the Iowa State Cyclones. How good was the defensive performance against Iowa State? The Cyclones turned the ball over five times and didn't crack the 200 yard barrier until the fourth quarter. Iowa State punted seven times and five of their ten offensive possessions end in five plays or less.
ISU quarterback Jared Barnett was sacked only once but was pressured early and often. He completed just 46% of his passes for 126 yards and was intercepted by Travis Lewis. We'll have more on this later in the week but the block in the back penalty on Lewis' interception return may be one of the worst officiating blunders I've ever seen and shows just how inept and atrocious the officiating is in this league.
I applaud Brent Venables for making the call to put Sam Proctor as the starting free safety and use Javon Harris as the nickel back. I also applaud Harris for making the transition and keeping his head up. His attitude and rapport on the field showed the essence of a true team first type player.
This also may have been Tom Wort's best performance of the year. He seemed to be everywhere while racking up a team high 11 tackles and two pass breakups. Wort would get my defensive player of the game award but Aaron Colvin also had a standout performance as well. He recorded 8 tackles and recovered a fumble.
On a day where the seniors were recognized it was the sophomores making the big plays on Saturday showing that the future is pretty bright on the defensive side of the ball. Wort, Colvin, Corey Nelson and Tony Jefferson were the top four tacklers and combined for 34 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, 2 fumble recoveries and a sack.
Defensive Position Grades
Defensive LIne - Did a solid job of containing Barnett and limiting his rushing options. Frank Alexander seemed like a man among boys at times. As a unit they didn't do a whole lot that would turn up on the stat sheet but they certainly didn't seem to get exposed in any way either. Overall position grade: B+
Linebackers - The stat line for the sophomores listed above pretty much tells the story of the linebackers. When you add Lewis' interception to it then it becomes a pretty exceptional day for Oklahoma's second layer of defense. Overall position grade: A+
Secondary - Aaron Colvin was mentioned with the sophomores above and had the best day of any player in the secondary but Jamell Fleming and Demontre Hurst were solid as well. They combined for 8 tackles and a forced fumble. When the only derogatory thing you can say about a player is that he dropped a sure interception then its been a good day. Overall position grade: A-