At Less Than Full Strength, OU Defense Not Quite As Dominant Against Tulsa

Brett Deering

Good enough for the win, but not good enough based on the standard they had set through the first two games.

How I'd choose to describe the Oklahoma defense and their performance Saturday afternoon against Tulsa.  Pretty much average all the way around.  There wasn't anything that was overwhelmingly alarming, but there also wasn't really anything that stood out.

Well, that's not entirely true.

The stupidity of the call for targeting made on Gabe Lynn and the absurdity of the rule that replay can overturn an ejection but not the penalty.  So yeah, that stood out.

If there was one particular area of concern, which might even be too strong of a phrasing, it would be the lack of pressure Oklahoma was able to create on Tulsa's Cody Green.  The Sooners were only credited with one sack on the day (shared by Jordan Phillips and Charles Tapper) and really did very little to harass Green.  As I write this, I've yet to have a chance to go back and watch the game again but from what I've read people seem to be under the impression that Mike Stoops did not blitz as much Saturday as he'd done in the previous two weeks.  So, if true, that could certainly have played a role in the lack of pressure on the quarterback.

Another thing to keep an eye on in the coming weeks is how the Sooners line up on defense.  In the Louisiana-Monroe game, Oklahoma spent nearly every down on defense in a 3-3-5 formation.  Last week against West Virginia, Mike Stoops introduced a 3-4 formation.  Saturday we saw OU in a 3-4 more than they'd done in any of the two previous games.  Could be something they are working on for Notre Dame and/or teams that are more run heavy with their offense.  Through the first three games, they've had success with both formations and the ability to switch seamlessly between the two can only help to confuse opposing offenses.

Frank Shannon was probably the standout at the linebacker position, if only for Corey Nelson dropping multiple would-be interceptions, finishing the game with more tackles (10) than he had in the previous two games combined. Maybe it's just me, but it does seem like with each week Eric Striker's effectiveness has decreased so hopefully that is not a trend that continues after he created so much havoc in that ULM game.

With Aaron Colvin held out of the game, true freshman Stanvon Taylor surprisingly was given the chance to start.  At the start of the game, the assumption was Cortez Johnson who had been rumored to be shaken up at the end of last week's game was also being held out because of an injury.  However, Johnson later entered the game so it was apparently just a case of the coaches being happier with Taylor's work during practice this past week.  And while he certainly wasn't perfect, Taylor did acquit himself pretty well all things considered.  Pretty crazy to think OU was starting two freshman corners in this game.

Sticking with the secondary, another solid performance for Gabe Lynn who has clearly found a home at the safety position.  We already addressed the ridiculous penalty he was called for and the initial ejection that was rightfully overturned.  He was shaken up a bit on his interception return and did not return to the game in the second half, but by all accounts that was purely for precautionary measures.  Another true freshman, Hatari Byrd, played pretty well in Lynn's absence though there was one particular wheel route where he looked like the youngster that he clearly is out there.

Again, nothing to be overly concerned about but also not quite the dominant performance some were probably hoping for coming into the game.  Stands to reason the OU coaches held some back, but you also need to credit Tulsa for making a couple quality plays that led to the total yards allowed number of 321 being high than you would have liked.  Stating the obvious, there will be no holding anything back in two weeks against Notre Dame who at the time of this post is struggling with a pretty terrible Purdue team.

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