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John Rohde: Sooner defense stealing the show in '09

BY JOHN ROHDE Modified: October 25, 2009 at 8:04 am •  Published: October 25, 2009

A year ago, Oklahoma's defense could simply stand on the sidelines and enjoy the view.

Heisman Trophy winner Sam Bradford was directing a point-a-minute offense as the Sooners scored 60-plus points in each of their last five regular-season games.

OU amassed a school-record 99 touchdowns and was the highest-scoring team in the post-World War II era of college football with 716 points.

That was last year.

This year, the Sooners are on pace for 54 touchdowns and 446 points if they play 14 games.

An injured Bradford now stands alongside his defensive teammates while the OU offense musters what it can.

For the Sooners to get the most out of the 2009 season, their defense must excel, and another prime performance came Saturday in a 35-13 victory at Kansas.

The OU defense already has thrown back-to-back shutouts this season and came within a late fourth-quarter score of keeping a third opponent out of the end zone.

"You know how defensive coaches are," defensive backs coach Bobby Jack Wright said of KU's lone touchdown that came with 4:21 remaining. "We're always upset about giving up something. Yeah, we hated to do that. Though it's probably not realistic, we go into every ballgame to shut down the opponent, or to shut out an opponent."

The victory over the No. 24-ranked Jayhawks was impressive and significant for the No. 25-ranked Sooners, primarily because they would have been a bummed-out bunch had they lost this game and fallen to 3-4 on the season.

In addition to an ailing Bradford (throwing shoulder), the offense also is without All-American tight end Jermaine Gresham (knee) and two NFL linemen selected in last April's draft.

The offense can be forgiven for not oozing confidence these days. Meanwhile, OU defenders are tending to their own business.

"I just think we've got to do our part," All-American defensive end Gerald McCoy said. "Defense has to do their part. Offense has to do their part. If the offense doesn't score, we have to come out and stop 'em. That's just what we're supposed to do."

Sooners defensive end Jeremy Beal and his cohorts insist they don't feel any added pressure when the OU offense is spinning its wheels.