Through the first three games of the year, the Oklahoma Sooners’ defense deserved the benefit of the doubt.
The real OU defense was the one that shut down the Florida State Seminoles and their high-octane offense in the second week of the year. Utah State and Air Force gashed the Sooners with offensive game plans heavy on read-and-react, not exactly the forte of OU’s get-after-it defense.
However, watching Cincinnati run wild against the Sooner D to the tune of 460 total yards in OU’s 31-29 win Saturday night left Homerism thinking, WTF.
The Bearcats employed plenty of the same veer-option concepts in the run game as the Aggies and Falcons. Factor in a gutty, mobile quarterback in Zach Collaros and the return of running back Isaiah Pead, and Cincy’s success moving the ball shouldn’t have shocked anyone.
Still, it would be comforting to think the Sooner staff is making strides towards actually improving their schemes to bolster the soft spots in the D. If anything, Oklahoma’s defense somehow managed to look even worse, as Pead popped off for 8.0 yards per attempt en route to 169 yards for the game. When Cincy wasn’t gashing OU with the run, scrambling quarterback Zach Collaros was bombing away for 8.0 yards per pass, or 13.3 yards for each of the 23 passes he completed on the evening.
The Sooners’ dormant proclivity for penalities reared its ugly head as well. OU gave away an additional 113 yards courtesy of the yellow hankies.
Somehow, though, the Sooners survived. In stark contrast to last season, it’s OU’s opponents who are tossing away chances to win games and committing back-breaking mistakes. For their part, the Sooners seem to have regained a sense of composure and toughness that was sorely lacking during the ’09 horror show.
Sooner Nation continues to sweat out tight games, but the reality is that OU has now finished one of the more difficult non-conference schedules in the country with a perfect record. It’s on to the Big 12 now, a league Stoops has won in six out of his previous 11 years in Norman.
OU’s defense is keeping things interesting. But too close for comfort still beats the hell out of losing. If the past is any indication, count on OU to rack up plenty more Ws in the next eight games.
(Editor’s note: I have no idea who he is, but props to YouTube user HolaKyle for his outstanding weekly highlight videos. Check out his YouTube channel.)