NORMAN — Oklahoma's defense didn't fare all that well in ‘total defense' in a 47-14 season opening win over Tulsa Saturday night at Owen Field.
Total defense is determined by yards allowed, but much of the Golden Hurricane's damage could be traced to three plays.
Led by quarterback G.J. Kinne, the Conference USA Player of the Year, TU's offense returned 10 starters from a unit that scored 44.1 points a game.
In the bottom line category, the Golden Hurricane scored only twice.
“The defense had an excellent night outside of three plays,” said coach Bob Stoops.
Tulsa's only first half score was a 56-yard Bryan Burnham touchdown reception when the Sooners busted coverage.
“That was one player busted the call,” Stoops said. “He read the signal wrong. That's what happens when you read the signal wrong when everyone else is doing something else.”
In the third quarter, Tulsa H-back Willie Carter broke loose for a 69-yard catch. Safety Javon Harris was the victim.
In the fourth quarter Carter shook loose for another 44-yard gain.
“It was just bad coverage,” Stoops said. “One guy just didn't turn up field when they turned up field.”
But overall Tulsa's high octane offense was held in check.
The Golden Hurricane compiled 400 yards. Nearly half (193) came on four plays.
Besides the three long gainers, TU scored on a 24-yard TD pass on a fourth down play in the fourth quarter when Trey Watts broke a couple of tackles.
“We can't get lax,” said defensive end Frank Alexander. “If you get lax you get beat deep.”
But other than the four big plays, the Sooners gave up just a little more than three yards a play on TU's other 60 plays.
The Sooners collected three sacks and put constant pressure on Kinne.
“They're a good offense,” said linebacker Tom Wort. “They won at Notre Dame last year and won 10 games. They're not a bad football team at all. Their offense is one of the best offenses around.”
It was an emotional night for the defense. Wort was the first player to wear No. 12 in honor of Austin Box who died in May.
“There was a lot of emotion tonight,” said defensive coordinator Brent Venables. “He was really heavy on everyone's heart. Our guys really came out hungry and really stayed purposeful.”
Venables said the three big plays are correctable mistakes.
“We have got to put pressure on them, but we got a lot of big hits and three turnovers,” Venables said. “For the first three quarters we played very controlled. I am very pleased with our guys. There were some three-and-outs that were good as well as some timely turnovers.”
Stoops summed it up that for the most part the defense had a solid debut against a veteran, dynamic offense.
“Other than that it was really good,” Stoops said. “Because of those it was just good.”