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OU-Air Force film study: Jury still out on Sooner defense

by Michael Baldwin Modified: September 19, 2010 at 8:27 pm •  Published: September 19, 2010

The national rankings aren't typical.

After three games, the Sooners are 89th nationally in total defense (408.0 yards a game), 90th in run defense (184.7).

What was OU defensive coordinator Brent Venables' reaction after watching Air Force compile 458 total yards, 351 on the ground?

"We're not even grading this tape," Venables said. "It doesn't do us any good, so we're going right on down the road."

Air Force's option is unique. Utah State's offense isn't like spread offenses OU will see during conference play.

But after watching film of the Sooners' 27-24 win, a closer look reveals why Air Force had only one three-and-out.

More than half of Air Force's rushing yards (187) came between the tackles.

The Falcons were 11-of-18 on third-down conversions.

"We tried to explain to everybody they're going to get their yards, they're going to possess the football," Venables said. "Of their 10 possessions, on seven of them they scored a total of three points, which is excellent against a team like that."

Those other three possessions, though, were lengthy TD drives, including two fourth-quarter drives that resulted in OU's lowest margin of victory during a 33-game home winning streak.

Playing Air Force and Utah State makes it difficult to draw definitive conclusions. But without a Gerald McCoy or Tommie Harris to anchor the middle, the interior defense remains a work in progress.

Sophomore defensive tackles Stacy McGee and Casey Walker are first-year starters. McGee had eight tackles against Air Force.

Senior Adrian Taylor still isn't 100 percent following a severe ankle injury. Jamarkus McFarland looks like a young player learning on the job. True freshman Daniel Noble was on the field a lot the second half and should see more playing time.

Is it as simple as the Sooners will produce more dominant Florida State-like outings when they play familiar spread offenses?

Or have the Aggies and Falcons revealed a defense with six new starters might not be as dominant as some forecast?

Continue reading this story on the...

by Michael Baldwin
Redhawks, Barons, MLB, NFL Reporter
Mike Baldwin has been a sports reporter for The Oklahoman since 1982. Mike graduated from Okmulgee High School in 1974 and attended Oklahoma Christian University, graduating with a journalism degree in 1978. Mike's first job was sports editor...
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