Oklahoma Sooners

Position Grades | Oklahoma’s Defense Remains Strong Against UCLA

M. Hofeld


You have to excuse us if week one of the college football season didn’t make believers out of us in the Oklahoma defense. Now that week two has come and gone, you’ve got our attention. Florida Atlantic, who the Sooners limited to 14 garbage time points, threw the ball all over Air Force and OU, for the second week in a row, continued to dominate on the defensive side of the ball.

For the second week in a row Oklahoma’s defense faced an offensive guru of a head coach, and for the second week in a row Oklahoma’s defense brought pain and frustration.

Continuing an edgy and physical style of play that will remind fans of the days of Roy Williams, Rocky Calmus, and Teddy Lehman, OU limited UCLA to just one score against the starting unit. The Bruins mustered just 254 total yards of offense for the day and were limited to a 5-of-15 third down conversion rate.

“We had some pressures from different people where, in the past, it’s pretty much been Ogbo or nothing,” Lincoln Riley said after the game. “I think we did better there. I think we’re starting to be able to do more things with those guys. I think those guys are starting to understanding what we’re doing, what Mike (Stoops) and the group wants to do schematically and starting to settle in with it. We’re pretty active up front right now. We’ve got a pretty nice rotation with some of the depth and that was definitely a critical factor.”

Oklahoma’s defense recorded six sacks against UCLA and twelve tackles for loss. It was a defensive performance so dominant that OU’s top six tacklers played in the front seven. Mark Jackson led the way for the crew with 10 total stops.

“Our D-Line continues to play well,” Mike Stoops said of his guys up front. “I thought our pressures were good. Gave up one bad third down play, but after that I thought our first group played really well through three quarters. Our front played well. I thought Curtis (Bolton), Mark Jackson showed up more, and Kenneth Murray played better. Neville looked like he played better. A lot of positive signs. It’s hard to tell when you’re up just watching everything and the game’s going and you’re trying to put calls together, but there are some things that I thought worked good just from watching it. You have to critique it tomorrow and figure out where we go and continue to move forward.”

Position Grades

Defensive Line | Mark Jackson is a hybrid linebacker/defensive end so both units will benefit from his 10-tackle performance. Neville Gallimore had eight solo tackles and Kenneth Mann produced seven tackles. Overall Grade: A+

Linebackers | Counting Mark Jackson, the linebackers contributed on three of Oklahoma’s six sacks. Kenneth Murray and Curtis Bolton combined for 17 total tackles, including 4.5 tackles for loss. Overall Grade: A+

Defensive Backs | UCLA took a 7-0 lead thanks to a busted coverage that set tight end Caleb Wilson free for 65 yards on a 3rd and 16 play. Beyond that, it was a better than solid performance for Oklahoma’s defensive backs. Tre Brown and Tre Norwood both recorded sacks on blitzes. Overall Grade: B+


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