Red River Rivalry | Grading The Oklahoma Sooner Defense

Heading into the Red River Rivalry, the Oklahoma Sooners formulated a clear defensive game plan — force the Texas Longhorns offensive line to win the game. Suffering unimaginable losses in the trenches, the offensive line has become a liability for UT. Making several personnel changes as well as schematic adjustments, Mike Stoops’ defense exposed this single key factor.

For a majority of the game, the Oklahoma Sooners deployed a five defensive back look. However, at times, that number was increased to six defensive backs on the field simultaneously. The decision covered up the weaknesses displayed by Jordan Thomas over the past several weeks.

Dropping back to pass, Sam Ehlinger let the ball fly time and time again. Racking up 39 pass attempts, the freshman quarterback completed a mere 19 of those on Saturday. Those numbers leave the true freshman with a 48.7% completion rate — Ehlinger’s worst of the season. Facing excellent coverage all game long, the pass rush began to affect the game.

Three different players recorded sacks against a struggling Longhorn offensive line. Those three players can thank the blitz packages Stoops employed — or they can complain at the lack of holding calls. Creating numerous angles to blitz from, linebacker Caleb Kelly found himself putting pressure on the opposing quarterback or flushing him out of the pocket. As a team, Oklahoma recorded eight QB hurries but it came at a cost.

Recognizing the blitz, Ehlinger utilized his athleticism while tucking the ball and running. Rattling off the longest run for the Longhorns, the youngster gashed OU for 18 yards on the ground. On the other hand, no running back rushed for more than eight yards throughout the afternoon. Needless to say, the Texas backs were ineffective against the Oklahoma front seven.

Regardless, Oklahoma forced three fumbles but could not recover the loose ball. It’s the most notable downfall of this defense from the Red River Rivalry. Unable to secure a turnover, the Sooners still have five on the year. It’s a number that must improve as the meat of the schedule remains ahead.

Overall, the defense receives a “B” grade for the effort and adjustments on the field Saturday. There is room for improvement moving forward but the job provided yet another win in a bitter rivalry.

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