Oklahoma’s defense took it on the chin in the first half against Houston on Saturday but they dished out their own share of punishment in the second. Despite the loss you have to commend the halftime adjustments that limited and frustrated the Cougars offense. Despite the adjustments you have to admit that there were fundamental flaws that put the Sooners against the ropes.
At the heart of the issue were personal foul penalties, third down defense, and Dakota Austin. Before we jump too deep into Austin we should first admit that Steven Dunbar is a 6-3/210 star that is going to make a bunch of defensive coordinators and defensive backs headaches this season. Austin lost a battle on Saturday but he lost it to a dude that is going to take the dignity of many defensive backs this season.
I think that we’re all at a loss when it comes to the third down situation. Perhaps we should just write it off as Houston was just that good. I know that isn’t the poplar answer but it looks like it may be the right one in this situation. Oklahoma just got beat on third down…repeatedly.
The most immediate repair to Oklahoma’s defensive woes is going to be the penalties. Some of them were questionable, some were just stupid, and some were in the middle of those two. They should all be a quick fix though.
Defensive Line | Charles Walker was a load to handle and helped both plug the gaps and occupy blockers so that the linebackers could clean up. Jordan Wade and Matt Dimon also had a few plays they shined on and four linemen recorded tackles for loss. Overall Grade | A
Linebackers | Ogbonnia Okoronkwo had his share of flags thrown at him on Saturday but you can’t help but to be excited about the potential he showed. He recorded one of the two sacks on the day for Oklahoma’s defense and was second on the team with nine tackles. Jordan Evans was third on the team with eight take downs and the linebacker corps recorded four tackles for loss. Overall Grade | A
Secondary | Dakota Austin’s struggles are well documented but the safeties, along with Jordan Thomas were better than fair. They’ve got to get the corner opposite of Austin figured out. I’d like to get another look at Parrish Cobb though, and I’m pretty sure we will against Louisiana Monroe. Overall Grade | C+
Coaching | Oklahoma was really good against the run on Saturday and the pass rush looked like it has the potential to be really good as well. The biggest source of encouragement though should be the halftime adjustments. After seeing the Cougars move the ball at will through the first thirty minutes of the game the Sooners held the Houston offense to just one touchdown in the final thirty minutes.
Swapping sides of the field for Jordan Thomas and matching him up with Dunbar was one of the top moves by Mike Stoops. Bringing the run blitz and disguising coverage were some of the others. The main thing is that changes were made and they worked. Overall Grade | B-
Defensive Player of the Game
DB/LB Will Johnson | Led the team with 10 total tackles, also had a fumble recovery that prevented a Houston score.