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Sooner Defense Makes The Crucial Plays In 38-30 Win Over Red Raiders

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Brett Deering
"It doesn’t get much tougher from a defensive perspective when you’re playing with three freshmen right in the middle of your line. There aren’t many people in America doing that. To beat a team of that caliber says a lot about those kids, and it says a lot about our team and our depth. I am really, really pleased. It wasn’t perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but we made the plays when we needed to." -Mike Stoops

Oklahoma's defense sent the message to Texas Tech on their first offensive series of the day, third down conversions won't come easy for the Red Raiders. Facing a third and six, from their own thirty-two, Tech quarterback Davis Webb was sacked by a much quicker Eric Striker who chased him down as he tried to roll to his right. Defensive coordinator Mike Stoops would say after the game, it wasn't anywhere close to a perfect defensive performance but the Sooners came up with some big plays on the defensive side of the ball anyway.

Oklahoma forced Texas Tech into three turnovers, recorded three sacks and broke up five passes. However, it was third and fourth downs where the Sooners made their living. The Red Raiders were held to just 5-14 on third down ans 1-3 on fourth down. Those were the plays where this game was won by Oklahoma and lost by Texas Tech. Oklahoma recorded a sack, a forced fumble and recovery, and an interception on third down, while also forcing the Red Raiders into four incomplete passes.

That's not to say that Texas Tech didn't have their fare share of success on offense, because they absolutely did. Coming into Norman with the Big Twelve's top rated passing attack, Tech quarterback Davis Webb threw for 385 yards and two touchdowns. The Red Raiders also reached into their bag of tricks and scored a touchdown on running back pass from Kenny Williams to Eric Ward for the first score of the game.

The three keys to the game for Oklahoma's defense coverage, pressure and turnovers. By stifling the Tech rushing attack (only 2.9 yards per carry) the Sooner defense was able to play the pass without hesitation. The result was better coverage, for the most part, causing Webb to check down and allowing the pressure to get there. In addition to being sacked three times, Webb was also hurried on four other occasions. His twenty incomplete passes were the most he's had in conference play and his 62.3 completion percentage was his lowest since conference play began. The end result was the lowest quarterback rating (128.2) Webb has had as a starter.

The biggest challenge of the night for the Sooners was defending Tech tight end Jace Amaro. While Oklahoma was able to keep him out of the end zone he still managed a team-high 14.9 yards per catch on eight receptions. You have to give OU safety Quentin Hayes for not letting things get worse with Amaro by blanketing him for most of the night and also forcing a key fumble after Amaro had made a catch.

"We knew we had to get the turnovers. Whenever we had an opportunity, we had to. We missed one on a fumble, but besides that, I think we capitalized on them pretty well." - Oklahoma safety Gabe Lynn

The added pressure on the Red Raider offense let to three turnovers (2 interceptions and a fumble by Amaro) and kept momentum with the Sooner defense. More importantly the turnovers killed scoring threats as all three occurred on Oklahoma's half of the field.

"We knew that coming in that we couldn't have the turnovers, but we didn't take care of business." - Kliff Kingsbury

Position Grades

Defensive Line, B- : There wasn't a whole lot done by the d-line that will show up in the stats but they did a very good job at not getting pushed off the line of scrimmage and keeping Tech blockers out of the second level on running plays. Chuka Ndulue produced the most notable play by the line when he recorded a huge sack on Texas Tech's final offensive possession.

Linebackers, B- : The Texas Tech passing game limited the impact that the linebackers had in the game because of the necessity for extra defensive backs. Freshman Jordan Evens tied for the second most tackles on the team with eight while sophomore Eric Striker had 1.5 sacks and freshman Dominique Alexander recorded four tackles. The future is bright at this position for Oklahoma.

Secondary, B+: Zack Sanchez had some struggles in coverage but also recorded eight tackles. The overall performance by Oklahoma's secondary was pretty solid overall. The unit produced four of the team's top five tacklers (led by Gabe Lynn's team-high of 9) and three interceptions.