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Berry Tramel


OU football: Red-zone defense shines

by Berry Tramel Published: October 21, 2011

OU’s red-zone offense is not productive. That’s been well-documented. But less known is this: OU’s red-zone defense has been superb.

The Sooners rank No. 1 in the NCAA’s red-zone defense statistics, and though I don’t favor the NCAA’s formula, the Sooners rank No. 2 using my preferred method.

OU has given up four touchdowns and three field goals in opponents’ seven trips inside the 20-yard line. That’s a national-best .583 percentage for teams scoring once they reach the red zone on the Sooners. Next are Rutgers and Standford, at .588.

I don’t necessarily like that formula, though, because it counts touchdowns and field goals the same. Which they most certainly are not.

In red-zone touchdown-prevention defense, the Sooners rank second nationally: .333, four TDs allowed in 12 trips. Rugers leads, having allowed five TDs in 17 red-zone trips.

The best way to gauge red-zone efficiency is to count touchdowns as a full score and field goals as a half. Using that method, OU still ranks second, with a .458 percentage. Rutgers leads at .441.

Here are the top 10 in red-zone defensive efficiency: 1. Rutgers .441; 2. Oklahoma .458; 3. Stanford .529; 4. BYU .542; 5. North Carolina .543; 6. Kansas State .571; 7. Wisconsin .577; 8. Michigan .579; 9. Arkansas .583; 10. Western Michigan .583.

What that means is this. So far this season, when an OU opponent reaches the red zone, it’s still less than 50-50 that the foe even gets a field goal.

Of course, the best way to play good defense is limit the red-zone opportunities of opponents. And the Sooners do that.

Michigan State has allowed just seven red-zone trips (with four touchdowns and a field goal). Alabama has allowed nine (with five TDs and a field goal). Temple has allowed 11 (seven touchdowns). OU has allowed 12 (four T

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by Berry Tramel
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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