Many questions surrounded this Oklahoma Sooners defense heading into this Texas Tech Red Raiders game. One thing we knew was that the secondary benefited greatly from Mike Stoops' return as the defensive coordinator. The first change was to put players in a position to succeed and the affect was seen immediately as this was a secondary that came to play. However, the rest of the lineup was a wash as it seemed fans could pick names out of a hat as to who would be the starter. For the first time in four games, the Oklahoma Defense was able to string together a couple of great quarters to seal the victory.
As the Red Raiders took the field on offense, they seemed to be marching down field with little to no resistance from the Oklahoma defense. Time and time again, Seth Doege was able to drop back without having to face any sort of pressure. Thus, Doege had ample time to look downfield and find an open receiver as Tom Wort was forced into covering skill players with no success once again. Not only was the passing game clicking, the rushing attack proved to be a worthy opponent as well. It seemed like the Sooners were going down the same road as the opposing offense exposed their weakness and then exploited it.
After knotting the score up at 7-7 in the first half, the Oklahoma defense did the unthinkable and decided to make in-game adjustments. This is something the Sooners had become content with refusing to do over the years as it came back to bite them time after time. In this unthinkable moment, defensive backs were up at the line of scrimmage in press coverage and the David King was making a frequent appearance in the backfield. However, the most noticeable change came in the fact that Wort had been replaced at LB with Frank Shannon, a redshirt freshman, in the first half. In turn, surprise performer, Shannon made a case for being the starter as he came up huge for Oklahoma later in the game with a 4th down sack on Doege.
Shannon ended the game with a team high 6 tackles, something fans had expected to see from the starter in Wort.
The Sooners were just getting started as Jamarkus McFarland came up with the first of three interceptions on the afternoon. Aaron Colvin came up with another incredible pick at the line of scrimmage in the first half as the Texas Tech offense began to unravel a bit. Though the defense struggled through a portion of the first half, 13 points was limited damage and considered a success.
In the second half, the defense ran away with the game. Early in the third quarter, Doege would find himself with continued pressure as Oklahoma utilized the blitz to keep the linemen off balance. It was in this moment that Doege found yet another one of his passes being tipped into the air, yet this one would prove costly as it was returned for 46 yards by Javon Harris for a touchdown. If there was a turning point in the game that said "this one is out of reach" it was here as Tech fans began leaving the stadium in droves.
Overall the Oklahoma defense held Texas Tech scoreless after the 7:00 mark in the second quarter, that is until garbage time.
Defensive Line: This is a unit that struggled early on yet was able to bounce back midway through the second quarter. While they occasionally had a hiccup, they remained solid for the remainder of the afternoon giving up 89 rushing yards on 32 attempts. B+
Linebackers: Where were the linebackers for the first part of the game? I'm still not sure if we fielded any until the idea and subsequent decision to put Shannon in was birthed. Wort continuously trailed behind a receiver or had no effect against the rushing attack. While I applaud the change, we will see if it sticks. Shannon was the saving grace for this group. B-
Secondary: A unit that came to play for redemption still gave up 203 yards to Doege before garbage time kicked in. However, they were able to limit him to a season low 61.1% completion rate along with another season low in 5.64 YPA without a passing touchdown while coming up huge with two picks (one pick-six). A
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