The big questions surrounding Oklahoma defense were surrounding the defensive line and the safeties. While the DE's passed their opening test with with flying colors there are mixed reviews on the safeties and a possible concern. However, the overall body of work by Oklahoma's defense was pretty special. Tulsa came into the game with nine returning starters from a 2010 offense that had ranked 6th nationally in scoring with an average of 41.4 points per game. When the final seconds had ticked off the clock on Saturday night the Sooner defense had held the Golden Hurricane to just 14 points while forcing three turnovers.
Defensive Line - Quietly Ronnell Lewis tied for a team high 8 tackles, had 2.5 tackles for loss and a sack. Frank Alexander recorded 6 tackles, 1.5 for loss, an interception and a sack. Casey Walker and Jamarkus McFarlans each had two tackles as well as RJ Washington who also had a sack.
The defensive ends were able to contain the edges and make plays in the backfield and the tackles did an excellent job at plugging gaps while also occupying blockers leaving the linebackers free to make plays. Defensive line overall grade A+
Linebackers - Filling in for Travis Lewis, Corey Nelson had a quiet night with three tackles. Tony Jefferson and Tom Wort had five tackles each and Wort helped cause a fumble. Unfortunately Wort also got shook down by Tulsa quarterback GJ Kinne and ended up tackling air on national television. The end result was nothing spectacular for Oklahoma's linebackers but nothing to get upset over either. Linebacker overall grade A-
Secondary - Ah, here lies the rub. We knew the corners were going to be good for Oklahoma and that's exactly what they were. Jamell Fleming gets a huge assist on Frank Alexander's interception and the duo of Fleming and Demontre Hurst combined for 10 tackles. Aaron Colvin tied with Ronnell Lewis with 8 tackles, which is what you want from your strong safety, and to this point the secondary is grading out right up there with the line and linebackers. We have to talk about the free safety though.
We should begin by talking about what Javon Harris did right before we talk about a possible fatal flaw. He moved to the ball very well and had great pursuit angles. He placed second on the team with 7 tackles and was in on a huge hit with Wort that caused a fumble. Those are all attributes that you love as a defensive coach and want to build upon. However, his inexperience caused him to get caught looking into the backfield three different times which resulted in huge plays for Tulsa. The good news is that this is an easy problem to fix unless its completely goes against his nature which will take more time and playing experience to work out. Regardless, even if it was one player, the secondary gave up three huge plays and it shows in the overall grade. Secondary overall grade C
Defensive MVP: Frank Alexander