Matthew Emmons-US PRESSWIRE
Oklahoma's defense has turned a corner and Mike Stoops is directly responsible
Not trying to throw a jinx out here or anything, but the last time Oklahoma's starting defense gave up a score with a game's outcome still in the balance was on October 6th in the second quarter of the Texas Tech game. Saturday night Kansas became the second consecutive opponent to not be able to put up any points against the Sooner defense. Like Texas a week ago, the Jayhawks had to wait until garbage time to score against Oklahoma's second and third team defenders.
Mike Stoops has somehow created a time warp and taken this defense back to the early 2000's and it is a much appreciated change of pace from the last few years. The Sooners lead the conference in scoring defense (15.3 ppg) and pass defense (163.5 ypg).
Out of Kansas' first ten offensive possessions the longest drive they had was 35 yards and resulted in six punts, two fumbles, an interception and the end of a half. The Jayhawks had two drives that produced negative yards, had a missed field goal and a total of three turnovers.
Oklahoma's defensive dominance started up front where Jamarkus McFarland and Casey Walker seemed to live in the KU backfield. It was the most dominant performance of the season for OU's tackles and it transitioned into everything else going well. Walker finished with six tackles and a fumble recovery and the pressure that he and McFarland were able to produce up the middle played right into the hands of the defensive ends and linebackers. Chuka Ndulue had possibly his best game as a Sooner as well, recording six tackles and a sack but also applying relentless pressure.
Tom Wort was fantastic with seven tackles (2 for loss), a sack and a forced fumble. Rashod Favors also had a sack as the linebackers executed the game plan pretty much to precision by cleaning up what was leftover from the defensive line. The best thing that I saw from the linebackers was hard hitting/sure tackling. Punishing runners needs to continue and the Sooners seem to be on track for that.
In the secondary, you have to applaud the game that Javon Harris had (four tackles, 2 interceptions) but the story of the game was Tony Jefferson. Jefferson was a heat seeking missile on Kansas ball carriers and led the team with 11 total tackles. Much of what he was able to came from the ability to avoid blockers and then some of it was the support from the defensive line and linebackers chewing up blocks. The rest of it was Jefferson's knack for being a ball hawk and getting to the play.
With the level of offenses being played in the Big 12 its imperative that a team have a good defense. When you look at what Mike Stoops has done over the last three weeks with this squad they are playing well beyond where we thought they would be this season. Possibly the biggest change has been Oklahoma forcing turnovers. Over the last three weeks the Sooners have forced a total of nine turnovers. Thank you, Mike Stoops!