LUBBOCK, Texas — Oklahoma senior safety Javon Harris politely, but repeatedly, reminded reporters this week that the past is the past.
“We know what happened last year; there's nothing we can do about that,” Harris said.
Last October, quarterback Seth Doege led 29-point underdog Texas Tech into Norman and stunned the Sooners in a 41-38 upset.
Saturday, when Doege prepares to take the first snap inside Jones AT&T Stadium — where no OU team has won since 2003 — he'll look across at the same, albeit shuffled, five-man secondary he torched for 441 yards and four touchdowns last October.
“Last year was a different team than this year,” Harris said.
A different team, a different defensive coordinator and different roles for most of OU's starting defensive backs? Yes.
But the players comprising the Sooner secondary?
They're the same five — Harris, Demontre Hurst, Aaron Colvin, Tony Jefferson and Gabe Lynn — who started against the Red Raiders last year.
Hurst, a senior cornerback, is the only one who hasn't since changed positions.
Jefferson moved from nickelback to free safety. Harris from free to strong safety. Colvin from strong safety to cornerback.
And then there's Lynn, the corner-turned-nickel who received the lion's share of blame for last year's Texas Tech debacle.
Lynn started that night for injured corner Jamell Fleming. On one three-play sequence in the third quarter, he gave up a 40-yard pass, was called for a personal foul and then was responsible for a touchdown pass that gave Tech a 31-7 lead.
“Definitely,” Lynn responded when asked if Texas Tech was an opponent he was looking forward to facing.
“We got beat here last year, and we definitely want to come out here and show up.”
So far this season, the secondary has — for the most part — done just that. The unit has without question been the strongest of the Sooner defense through three games.
But Saturday in Lubbock, the Oklahoma secondary faces a dynamic passing attack led by Doege, who is perfectly capable of shaming it again.
“You make one simple mistake, they can gash you because they have the players to do that,” Jefferson said.
For defensive coordinator Mike Stoops, Saturday's game represents the first real test of the effect he's had in his return to Oklahoma.
The man who's been hailed as the Sooners' savior has made some schematic changes, but like so many things in football, success Saturday will come down to the little things.
“We're going to need all 11 guys to play well and play fast and be in the right spots,” Mike Stoops said. “If you're not, you're going to get exposed.”
That OU's first battle — of many — against an air-raid attack comes against Texas Tech seems fitting, given that last year's loss ultimately was seen as a precursor for secondary struggles in OU's two later losses.
Sooners coach Bob Stoops was asked if he thinks his secondary has something to prove Saturday in Lubbock.
“I would think they would have something to prove,” Stoops said.
“How could you not?”
SAME PLAYERS, DIFFERENT RESULT?
Oklahoma's starting five defensive backs are the same — albeit shuffled — as the five players who started in last year's 41-38 home loss to Texas Tech.
Here's a look at each of OU's starters in the secondary:
AARON COLVIN, JR., CB
* Last year vs. Tech: Started at strong safety, but shifted to corner in the second half after Tech repeatedly — and successfully — picked on Gabe Lynn.
* So far this year: The move to corner was made permanent in the offseason; he's recorded 14 tackles and five pass break-ups so far.
JAVON HARRIS, SR., SS
* Last year vs. Tech: Started at free safety and was briefly injured in the third quarter, although he quickly returned. Recorded two tackles all night.
* So far this year: Moved to strong safety and has been one of the hardest hitters on OU's defense. His interception against Florida A&M is the Sooner defense's only takeaway all year.
DEMONTRE HURST, SR., CB
* Last year vs. Tech: Recorded seven tackles and broke up two passes from his cornerback spot.
* So far this year: Has, along with Colvin, played extremely well from his cornerback spot. Has 11 tackles and two break-ups so far.
TONY JEFFERSON, JR., FS
* Last year vs. Tech: Made eight tackles from the nickelback position.
* So far this year: Has moved back to free safety, but still plays close to the line sometimes. Was injured against Florida A&M, and his absense was felt when backup Jesse Paulsen blew coverage on a 75-yard Rattlers touchdown pass.
GABE LYNN, JR., NB
* Last year vs. Tech: Tech coach Tommy Tuberville fully admits to picking on Lynn, who started at corner in place of the injured Jamell Fleming. He was pulled from the game after a miserable third quarter.
* So far this year: Shifted to nickel in the offseason and still seems to be adjusting to the new role. Was responsible for some of the wide open receivers in the second half of the Kansas State loss.