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Oklahoma Sooners Defense Handles Business Against Akron Zips

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Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

With a handful of questions surrounding the defense during much of the preseason, the Oklahoma Sooners handled business in the home opener against the Akron Zips. Behind a suffocating secondary effort, Zack Sanchez and a host of others limited the Zips to a mere 88 passing yards on 70 plays. Kyle Pohl, the former starter, remained the only quarterback of the three who played to complete a pass against the OU defense.

"Anytime you keep someone under 200 yards - I thought they did a great job. What happens sometimes, regardless of who you are playing, you have a missed assignment" Bob Stoops noted after the game. "When you're doing everything right and you're making people beat you, that's a good thing."

Of course, there is room for improvement after an entire offseason along with a single game under the belt. Mike Stoops felt as though the pass defense remained largely untested which I think many would agree with. Akron came in to Norman with the intention of running the ball consistently.

Regardless, the biggest surprise of the evening may have been true freshman, P.J. Mbanasor making the start at cornerback over sophomore, Jordan Thomas. "For PJ to start as a true freshman was important. He really did a nice job in the first quarter" said Mike Stoops. "JT (Jordan Thomas) needs and will continue to be important to what we are
doing on the corners. We can never have enough of them." Mbanasor became first true freshman to start a home opener since Sanchez did so in 2013 against ULM.

Others making their first career starts on defense included Matt Romar and Matt Dimon, both at defensive tackle.

Knowing the Zips ran the ball more often than not let us get a glimpse of the potential wielded by the front seven. Former freshman all-american, Dominique Alexander continues to dominate as a junior. The linebacker recorded a team high 10 tackles marking the eighth such occasion during his career.

Throughout the duration of the game, the Sooners defense held the Zips out of the endzone and to 226 yards on 70 plays. The only score came off a Sterling Shepard fumble allowing Akron to creep into field goal territory.

Position Grades

Defensive Line - A - With two new starters the defensive line found themselves in the backfield quite often. Charles Tapper held contain all night long while Charles Walker disrupted anything and everything. Needless to say, the defensive line held their own controlling the line of scrimmage making the linebackers job a touch easier.

Linebackers - A+ - This group continues to shine while on the field. With limitless talent and plenty of experience, the linebackers continuously flowed to the ball making tackle after tackle. On the night, the top four tacklers all play at the linebacker position

Secondary - A - As mentioned above the defensive backs remained untested through four quarters. Sanchez flubbed by peeking into the backfield allowing a receiver to zip around the defense. Fortunately a majority of the passes were off target. Can we really glean any information from 26 pass attempts? On a positive note, Hatari Byrd laid some wood emphasizing the tackling improvement from the group as a whole...a welcomed sight!