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Oklahoma football notebook: Sooner defense needs more takeaways

Over the last three games, the Sooners only have one takeaway — a fourth-quarter interception by junior safety Tony Jefferson.
by Jason Kersey Published: November 15, 2012
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SOONER DEFENSE NEEDS MORE TAKEAWAYS

When Oklahoma's defense has played its best this season, it has forced turnovers by opponents.

That's an area where the Sooners have struggled over their past three games, beginning with an Oct. 27 home loss to Notre Dame.

Over this stretch, the Sooners only have one takeaway — a fourth-quarter interception by junior safety Tony Jefferson.

Last week, Oklahoma defensive backs had their hands on a few Baylor passes but failed to intercept one.

“For us, it's about getting turnovers ... in the past three weeks, we haven't really gotten any,” said senior safety Javon Harris. “We're gonna focus on really executing our game plan, and hopefully the ball will come to us.”

The current stretch is reminiscent of the season's first three games, during which a Harris interception against Florida A&M was the Sooners' only takeaway. Like this recent three-game stretch, OU went 2-1, losing 24-19 at home to Kansas State on Sept. 22.

Those OU turnover struggles ended in the Sooners' fourth game, when the defense intercepted three passes at Texas Tech.

Saturday, the Sooners play at West Virginia, which, despite its four-game losing streak, has an offense built around a prolific passing attack like Texas Tech's.

“It's just about making plays,” Harris said. “A lot of balls are being thrown the past few weeks, really wide outside ... really going at the corners and trying to get deep balls ... really trying to stay away from the middle, from what I've noticed.

“They can't stay away from us too long, so hopefully we get some more chances to get turnovers.”

NORVELL: QUICK STARTS IMPORTANT ON THE ROAD

Oklahoma co-offensive coordinator Jay Norvell is pleased with how well the Sooners performed on their first two drives last weekend against Baylor, and said a similar quick start will be important Saturday against West Virginia.

“It's important, especially on the road, to start well,” Norvell said. “You've got a hostile crowd; it's a night game and they've been looking forward to this game.

“When we can run the ball and have good mix on our first drive, and go down and score a touchdown in the red zone, that really sets our team off with a lot of confidence. Especially knowing you've got an explosive team you're playing against that you're gonna have your hands full with all day.”

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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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