The expectation heading into today remained for the Oklahoma Sooners to simply run over the Texas Longhorns in the annual Red River Rivalry. With nothing to lose and everything to prove, Jerrod Heard kept Eric Striker and the rest of the defense guessing. Could the win be chalked up as a fluke? Think again.
"They covered us, they pressured us, they controlled the line of scrimmage," Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said. "Did I miss anything?"
Everyone in the stadium knew Texas was going to attempt to run the ball more often than not. Unfortunately, Oklahoma failed to do anything about it while D'Onta Foreman and Heard combined for 245 of the 338 rushing yards. Behind creative play calling and a high level of execution, the UT freshman quarterback racked up 168 total yards cementing himself as the Longhorns starting quarterback moving forward.
So where did it go wrong for the Sooner defense?
Inability To Create Turnovers
A week after forcing five turnovers (three interceptions and two fumble recoveries), the defense failed to create a single turnover. The lone interception from Zack Sanchez was reversed thanks to a defensive holding penalty...coincidentally called against the aforementioned defensive back. Throwing the ball a mere twelve times, Charlie Strong challenged the front seven of the Sooners to come up with big plays. Not having a force like Devonte Bond available certainly hurt, but P.L. Lindley is a more than capable player.
From the get go, the Sooners displayed poor tackling technique. Failure to wrap up the ball carrier led to a 24-yard touchdown reception from Marcus Johnson who tip-toed the line at one point amongst multiple other plays. The lack of technique caught the attention of Jake Trotter.
OU would be dominating this game if it were two-hand touch. #TEXvsOU— Jake Trotter (@Jake_Trotter) October 10, 2015
Failure To Force Heard Into Throwing The Ball
As mentioned above, everyone knew Texas would run the ball. The only question that remained was, "with how much success?" Controlling the line of scrimmage, UT and Heard ran the zone read to perfection when called upon. My perception is that offensive coordinator, Jay Norvell asked his quarterback to make a single read. If the first read was not open, then Heard was given the green light to tuck it and run putting pressure on Oklahoma's front seven.
Tasked with containing a mobile quarterback, the defensive ends let runners hit the edges with success on several occasions. Jordan Evans and Dominique Alexander led the team in tackles but often failed to get off blocks leaving running lanes left and right. Nothing during the game forced a freshman quarterback to throw the ball.
Defensive Line - When Jerrod Heard attempted to drop back and pass, the Sooners' defense put pressure on the young quarterback. But, when the pressure couldn't get a hand on the mobile Heard, containment was broken allowing the freshman to break off substantial gains on the ground. The defensive line was manhandled all afternoon. Grade: D
Linebackers - Running lanes were plentiful as the linebackers failed to plug the gaps. Combine that with the inability to shed blockers and it becomes clear why Texas found success on the ground. Grade: F
Secondary - Texas only threw the ball twelve times while the quarterbacks dropped back more often than the number suggests to look for receivers. Smothering open players, one area of play escaped the secondary...poor tackling. Need I say more? Grade: C