OU notebook: Sooners' run defense must play well

BY MIKE BALDWIN AND TRAVIS HANEY, Staff Writers, mbaldwin@opubco.com; thaney@opubco.com Published: September 22, 2011

Saturday's game between Oklahoma and Missouri presents strength on strength.

The Tigers rank 10th nationally in rushing offense, running for an average of 252.3 yards in their three games. The Sooners, though, have allowed only 78 rushing yards a game in their two wins.

Mizzou sophomore Henry Josey leads the Big 12 in rushing, averaging 133.3 yards a game, but that's deceptive. He has only 29 carries but is averaging 13.8 yards, bolstered by six runs of 20 or more yards. Quarterback James Franklin leads Mizzou in carries (47).

“Their backs and their (offensive) line will be a step up from what we played last week,” OU defensive coordinator Brent Venables said. “Their O-line is stronger (than Florida State), and their backs are better. And their quarterback is every bit as good at running the football. It's a big-time challenge for us.

“We'll need to be physical and stop the run. We can't give up big plays like we did a year ago.”

OFFENSE HANDLED NOISE WITH POISE

Center Ben Habern said the win at Florida State was especially satisfying because it was the loudest environment he had ever played in.

“What we talked about after the game was how consistently loud it was the whole game,” Habern said. “At some hostile environments I've played in, it gets loud in spurts. It gets really loud on big downs, especially third down. That game, they were loud the entire game.”

OU coach Bob Stoops was complimentary of quarterback Landry Jones and the offense for going the entire game without a false start or delay penalty.

A 15-play touchdown drive to start the game helped to quiet the rowdy crowd of 84,000-plus.

“Still, it was hard to communicate,” Habern said. “But that was a fun atmosphere. What a cool environment. That's a game I'll always remember.”

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