One of the biggest surprises of last Saturday’s 63-14 win over Florida Atlantic was the resurgence of Oklahoma’s defense. The Sooners dominated that side of the ball, particularly upfront, with a physical style of play that swarmed to the ball and punished anyone trying to get in their way. There may not have been a better play that exemplified Oklahoma’s new defensive mentality than a punt in which Nevelle Gallimore destroyed the man in front of him.
Anyone else notice this play from Neville Gallimore yesterday? pic.twitter.com/XFLarRkcWN
— Idk what to say here (@confirmedhater) September 2, 2018
The would-be FAU blocker nonchalantly approached Gallimore and the result was devastating. Possibly in past seasons the halfhearted blocking attempt would have been met with a passive attempt to get through to the backfield by a defensive lineman. Not this team, not this time, and not Nevelle Gallimore.
“We’ve been working in the off season on keeping a great extension as a d-line and getting off blocks and having the mentality that you can’t be blocked and won’t be blocked and things like that.” – Defensive End Amani Bledsoe
Sure, it’s just one play from the first game of the season, but this one play was a microcosm of what Oklahoma’s defensive mindset has become. Can you say that the OU defense is back after just one performance? No, at leas not with certainty, but you can say that they’re on their way.
The Sooners held Florida Atlantic to just 324 total yards of offense last Saturday. The Owls were just 4-15 on third down and 1-3 on fourth. Even more so, FAU didn’t score on on Oklahoma’s first unit.
“I feel like we don’t have anything to prove to the outside world,” sophomore linebacker Kenneth Murray said after Saturday’s win. “We have something to prove to ourselves, and that’s what we play for. We play for our teammates, I play for my brothers, and so, I mean, I feel like as long as you do that, as long as you play for your brothers and your teammates, it makes it easy to go out there and do your job because, you know, you care about the person that’s playing next to you.”
Oklahoma’s defense may be playing only to prove something to each other but the 85-plus thousand people in the stands sure appreciate it as well.