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Out Of Gas? Sooners Defense Puts The Breaks On Tennessee Offense

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Some of you will get what I just did there with the title.

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Last week, in the season opener against Akron, Oklahoma's defense kept the Sooners in the game, by locking down the Zips offense, until Baker Mayfield and company were able to get thing rolling. Saturday night in Knoxville it appeared as if that wasn't going to be the case as Tennessee started red hot and Oklahoma was once again ice cold.

The Vols jumped out to a 17-0 lead, midway through the second quarter, by mounting scoring drives on three for their first four possessions. The game took a turn after that point as Tennessee struggled to move the ball despite the beckoning of nearly a hundred thousand fans singing Rocky Top. After scoring a touchdown on their fourth possession the Volunteers had 167 yard of total offense and seemed to be well on their way to demoralizing Oklahoma. However, through the remainder of regulation Tennessee managed just 59 yards and were blanked on the scoreboard.

Mike Stoops dialed up the pressure on the Vols offense and frustrated Tennessee quarterback Joshua Dobbs to the point where he would eventually make a catastrophic mistake. Senior linebacker Devante Bond made a habit of crashing into the Vols backfield and creating havoc. He sacked Dobbs twice, recorded another quarterback hurry and also a forced fumble. Tennessee averaged just 2.86 yards per rush and Dobbs ended up with a final stat line of 13/31 for 125 yards, with one touchdown and one interception. That pick would end up being costly as well.

After Oklahoma tied the game, 17-17, the Vols took a seven point lead in the first overtime. The Sooners tied it again on their offensive possession in the first overtime and then took a 31-24 lead to start off the second extra session. Feeling the pressure of trailing for the first time in the game, Dobbs tried to throw to his right on third and twelve and Oklahoma corner Zack Sanchez was there waiting on the ball. Sanchez made a great read, jumped under the route and sealed OU's biggest come from behind victory since downing Nebraska in the 2010 Big 12 Championship Game.

The clear difference in this game was the physicality of Oklahoma's defense. While the Sooner offense was starting to hit their stride, Tennessee's was worn down and Dobbs was a mental nightmare. He only went down three times but was constantly pressured with OU recording six quarterback hurries. Dobbs only completed five passes in the second half and was 2-for-6 in the overtime periods with the interception to Sanchez. Tennessee's offense may have started the game fast but it was Oklahoma's defense that finished it by methodically pounding the Vols.

Position Grades

Defensive Line | The line did a solid job of containing Hobbs and recorded a combined 10 tackles with Charles Tapper adding a tackle for loss and a forced fumble. Overall Grade : A

Linebackers | We've been touting these guys as some of the best around for a while now and they proved themselves on Saturday night. Dominique Alexander and Jordan Evans combined for 16 total tackles and Eric Striker added six more with a half a sack. We already talked about Devante Bond who was the most impressive member of this linebacker corps on Saturday night. Overall Grade: A+

Secondary | Safety Ahmad Thomas led the team with 11 tackles and Sanchez had the game clinching interception. Jordan Thomas also added six tackles and Steven Parker had five with a pass breakup. The Vols were held to 3.7 yards per pass attempt. Overall Grade: A

Special Teams | Freshman Austin Seibert averaged 43.8 yards per punt and was once again perfect on place kicking. You have to raise an eyebrow at the punt returns though. Overall Grade: B+