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Oklahoma 24, UTEP 7: Postgame thoughts on the Sooners’ defensive performance

by Jason Kersey Published: September 2, 2012
Mike Stoops returned to Oklahoma after eight seasons as Arizona's head coach. PHOTO BY CHRIS LANDSBERGER, THE OKLAHOMAN
Mike Stoops returned to Oklahoma after eight seasons as Arizona's head coach. PHOTO BY CHRIS LANDSBERGER, THE OKLAHOMAN
EL PASO, Texas — I hit you with some thoughts three hours ago on OU’s offensive performance in Saturday’s season opener at UTEP, so here are some quick thoughts on the defense:

* UTEP running back Nathan Jeffery looked great from his first carry, when he rushed over right guard for a 14-yard gain. On the Miners’ first drive, his carries went for 14, 8, 4, 14 and 5 yards.

* Jeffery’s 177 yards came largely on runs right up the middle, when defensive ends and linebackers just didn’t execute the game plan, Bob Stoops said.

“The one issue with the inside zone that was bending back; we understood it the whole time,” Stoops said. “It’s just a matter of us executing better, the defensive end staying at home, squeezing the tackle and not running up field and giving them the space. We talked about it, and cleaned it up then for a while. To give up no points in someone’s place is always a positive.”

* After the first drive, OU’s defense really settled down and didn’t play terrible on the whole. The only huge play it gave up was, again, on a bend-back play that Jeffery took 71 yards midway through the third quarter.

* David King was excellent in his first start at defensive tackle. He played hard and put tremendous pressure on UTEP quarterback Nick Lamaison. The senior, who moved inside from defensive end after Stacy McGee’s indefinite suspension, finished with three tackles and two quarterback hurries. It’s frightening to imagine where this line, which was also without Casey Walker while he deals with a personal medical issue, would be without King and his versatility.

* Tom Wort didn’t look very sharp at middle linebacker. He made just one unassisted tackle and was involved with six assisted ones.

* The depth issues on the defensive line and at linebacker were apparent, I thought, but that wasn’t the only issue. If it’s just a matter of staying home and not missing assignments, then I suppose that can be worked out. But still, for that to have happened all night at times with Jeffrey bursting through the middle, I feel like there’s probably more to it than just that. Hopefully it’ll be easier to understand once I’m able to watch the game again.

* The secondary played very well. It’s a little tough to tell just how impressive that is; was it the result of a drastically improved defensive backfield, or just a really bad passing attack from UTEP? Lamaison was 6 of 23 for 39 yards. One negative in the secondary was a couple missed tackles by strong safety Javon Harris.

“We just wanted to set the tone for the secondary,” said senior cornerback Demontre Hurst. “We just wanted to execute our plays and take care of business. (Hurst and fellow cornerback Aaron Colvin) got challenged a lot. We didn’t give up any big catches. Overall, we did pretty solid. We still have some things to work on as far as technique.”

* Freshmen Michael Onuoha, Gary Simon and Eric Striker didn’t play at all like they were expected to, and defensive end Charles Tapper only got in late in the game. I was especially surprised by Gary Simon, who I think everyone had assumed was going to see significant time at cornerback.

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by Jason Kersey
OU Sports Reporter
Jason Kersey became The Oklahoman's OU football beat writer in May 2012 after a year covering high school sports and OSU recruiting. Before joining the newspaper in November 2006 as a part-time results clerk, he covered high school football for...
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