In the entire 2020 season Oklahoma’s defense only recovered three fumbles. So far, through the first two game, in 2021 the Sooners have forced six turnovers and five of them are by way of a fumble. With two fumbles recovered last Saturday against Western Carolina, and three recovered in the opener against Tulane, Alex Grinch and his “Speed D” have five fumble recoveries through the first two weeks of the season. You have to go all the way back to the 2008 season for the last time an Oklahoma defense recovered five fumbles in a two-game span. In that season the Sooners recovered three fumbles against Washington and two more the next week against TCU.
It was only Western Carolina but the Sooners pitched a shutout for the second time in the last two seasons. OU shutout Missouri State 48-0 in last season’s home opener. That makes two shutouts in the last twelve games. While it certainly isn’t a firm announcement that the defense is back to the dominance we saw in the early part of the 2000’s, it is a good measure of how they are improving. Look at scoreboards from across the country. Shutouts aren’t very common.
What Went Right
Pressure In The Backfield – The Sooners produced four sacks and eight total tackles for loss against Western Carolina on Saturday night. This is especially pleasing when you consider that the backend of the defense is still coming together. That process is aided by the front end wreaking havoc behind the line of scrimmage.
Third And Fourth Down Defense – For the second week in a row the Sooners were strong on third down. Oklahoma held Western Carolina to just 3-of-15 on third down attempts.
After struggling with Tulane on fourth down a week ago Oklahoma was much better last weekend. The Green Wave converted four of their six fourth down attempts against the Sooners but Western Carolina was held to just one conversion in three attempts.
Danny Stutsman – He led the team with eight total tackles and played with the type of tenacity and grit that you love to see from the linebacker position. Unfortunately his night ended early with an upper body injury.
Ethan Downs – The true freshman recorded two of the top defensive plays of the game when he produced a tackle for loss on fourth down and then forced a fumble 15 yards downfield but he also seemed to be everywhere on the field with a motor that looked to be in overdrive.
With five fumble recoveries, Oklahoma ranks #2 nationally. The Sooners are just behind Boise State who has six. Oklahoma’s defense ranks 7th nationally with six total turnovers. OU ranks 42nd nationally in scoring defense, allowing an average of 17.5 points per game. The Sooners are 24th in the country against the run with an average of 77.5 rushing yards allowed per game. Finally, OU is 70th against the pass, with opponents averaging 209.5 passing yards per game.
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