Oklahoma's defense overcame an early penalty that sent starting inside linebacker Jordan Evans to the locker room to lay the wood on Louisiana Tech's offense and pave the way to a 48-16 win. As Evans was coming in to deliver a hit on Louisiana Tech quarterback Cody Sokol he made helmet-to-helmet contact, as Sokol dropped to slide, causing him to draw a flag for targeting and resulting in his ejection.
"It is too bad about Jordan," Mike Stoops said after the game. "He makes a good football play, but it is what it is. He was playing really fast and I like what he was doing until he got dismissed from the game. But I really feel good about our defense."
Stoops should feel good about his defense because they were spectacular against the Bulldogs' rushing attack. Kenneth Dixon was held a long ways short of his 2012 Freshman All-American pace and even shy of his 2013 average of 6.1 yards per carry. He was bruised and abused by the Sooner defense to the tune of just 2.6 yards per carry and rendered ineffective as an offensive weapon for Louisiana Tech.
"We played well," defensive tackle Jordan Phillips said. "We communicated well and we did everything we needed to do. We were pretty keyed in on our assignments."
With their star running back removed from the game, Louisiana Tech couldn't get their offense on track. Oklahoma's defense held Tech to just 89 yards and five first downs in the first half where five of the Bulldogs' seven first half drives were three-and-out. Louisiana Tech got on the board with a field goal near the end of the first half but didn't really find pay dirt until the game went into garbage time late in the third quarter.
Linebacker Aaron Franklin led Oklahoma with six total tackles. Chuke Ndulue recorded a sack while Eric Striker and Matt Dimon combined for another. However, the busiest man on the field may have been Zack Sanchez who blocked a field goal, nabbed an interception and recorded three tackles.
Linebackers - Even in the absence of Jordan Evans Oklahoma was really good at the linebacker position. They were able to hone in on the ball carrier and basically keep the Bulldogs in check all evening. They also had success in pressuring the quarterback and had the team's leading tackler in Franklin. Overall Grade: A+
Defensive Line - Jordan Phillips was exactly what the Sooners needed him to be on Saturday evening. He only recorded two tackles on the game (one for loss) but was disruptive in the Bulldogs' backfield and helped Oklahoma control the line of scrimmage. The primary responsibility of the line was to keep blockers off of the linebackers and that's exactly what they did in this game. Overall Grade: A
Secondary - Zack Sanchez was making plays all over the field and nabbed the team's only interception. Julian Wilson was alright in his debut as a starting corner but was out of place a couple of times. Hatari Byrd had a spectacular pass breakup but also got beaten on a late touchdown. As expected, this will be the group that will need to show the most improvement as the season progresses. Overall Grade: B-
The bottom line is we wanted to see where this defense was after losing just a few faces from the 2013 squad that ended the season playing so well. I don't feel like they're at the same level they were on in the Bedlam game or the Sugar Bowl, but they're a long way ahead of where they were a year ago at this time. The only thing I walked away concerned with on Saturday night was depth. This defense is extremely young in the two-deep and there was a noticeable difference between the one's and two's in multiple positions. The Sooners must stay healthy and they must continue to develop players in garbage time.