Sprinkled in among Saturday’s frustrations were some nuggets of encouragement in Oklahoma’s 40-35 win over Tulane. Alex Grinch’s Speed Defense gave up 396 total yards of offense to the Green Wave but held Tulane to just 100 yards on the ground and 4-of-14 on third down. Ultimately the defense was responsible for five five touchdowns but it would be unfair not to admit that they were put in some bad situations. That’s not an excuse but it still should be noted.
What Went Right
Turnovers – Grinch has been preaching turnovers since day one and if Saturday was an indicator of what’s to come in 2021 then this could be a fun season. Oklahoma’s three fumble recoveries on Saturday were the same number of recoveries the Sooners had all of last season and just one fewer than they had in 2019.
Quarterback Pressure – The potential for Oklahoma’s defensive front seems to be unlimited and they showed flashes of it on Saturday. The Sooners sacked Tulane quarterback Michael Pratt four times and recorded nine total tackles for loss.
Isaiah Thomas – There were questions heading into Saturday to if the senior defensive lineman would be just as effective as he was in 2020 and I think we have those answers now. Three tackles, a sack, and a forced fumble were what showed up in the box score but his full impact on the field is something that would make for a good film study.
Delarrin Turner-Yell – Oklahoma’s senior strong safety recorded 10 total tackles (7 solo) to lead the Sooner defense.
Delarrin Turner-Yell is tied at 23rd nationally for solo tackles per game. The Sooners rank #2 nationally in fumble recoveries, #49 in rush defense and 107th against the pass (296 YPG).
What Went Wrong
Defending Motion Plays – Honestly this was the most concerning thing that I saw all day. At times the Sooners were completely lost on how to defend motion plays. Look at the play below as an example. There’s absolutely no way that three guys should have moved inside when the man in motion was coming their way.
The good news is that this is correctable. I can promise you that this was not the coaching game plan so some time in the film room should pay some dividends here.
Fourth Down – The Sooners were really good on third down defense, where they held the Green Wave to 4-of-14, but they were really bad on fourth down. Tulane converted on four of their six fourth down attempts. Tulane’s third quarter touchdown drive was 11 plays of which they converted twice on fourth down.
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