The Oklahoma Sooners knew heading into this game the secondary would be tested by the Tulsa Golden Hurricane receivers. However, I am not quite sure anyone anticipated exactly what played out as several defensive players went down with an injury. The most notable of the group, Zack Sanchez took a shot which appeared to break his collar bone at first sight.
"We'll see. Zack [Sanchez] checked out OK. They x-rayed him and everything was ok so hopefully that won't last long and then Charles Walker has a sprained, I'm not sure what part of his knee, but he'll be out a couple, 2-3 weeks."
Sooner fans welcome the news as Sanchez makes or breaks the secondary as the league's best cornerback. Yet, the injury provided a few back ups with valuable experience before Tennessee comes to town.
Although the defense bent often toward the end of the first half and periodically throughout the second half, Mike Stoops should feel good about the performance. Once Dane Evans found a rhythm with the receivers and the rushing attack opened up a bit, the Golden Hurricane found success. But, it would prove to be too little too late Driving down the field with 13 plays, the OU defense forced a fumble and subsequently secured the recovery. Jordan Phillips rumble down field effectively ended any hope TU had at scoring.
Overall, the duo of Keevan Lucas and Keyarris Garrett were held to 139 yards together with a single score by forcing much of the passes to come in underneath on short routes. From there, the linebackers cleaned up leaving the Golden Hurricane without an answer offensively.
"They came ready to play " said Lucas. "We expected them to be big and expected them to be fast. For the most part the better team won."
Defensive Line - Although Tulsa does not bring a power rushing attack to the field, the backs are more than capable of getting the job done. As the first line of defense, Oklahoma's D-Line held the opposing backs to just 3.96 yards per carry dominating the line of scrimmage. The longest run for the Golden Hurricane, 14 yards, came from James Flanders. Overall Grade: A
Linebackers - Today, this group seemed to be in the right place at the right time. Flying all over the field, three linebackers recorded 7+ tackles on the afternoon. Geneo Grissom provides and athletic big body that is difficult to throw over when sinking into coverage and relived a bit of his TE days coming up with an interception to drop the morale of the TU offense. Former walk-on Caleb Gastelum has played exceptionally well in two games now after injuries sidelined Jordan Evans. Given the situation, I don't think you could expect much more out of this group than what they showed today. Overall Grade: A
Secondary - The secondary received a curveball as Sanchez sat out a good portion of the game. With Jordan Thomas stepping in due to the absence, the group struggled here and there. Getting lost in coverage and failing to rotate opened a few things up for the Tulsa offense. To their credit, the longest pass play was a mere 21 yards from the line of scrimmage while opportunity for larger gains were there. Hatari Byrd has some maturing to do as this group is talented but leaves room for growth. Overall Grade: B-