DALLAS — Texas offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin's vaunted trick plays were stuffed all day like the majority of plays the Longhorns ran Saturday afternoon in the Cotton Bowl.
Oklahoma defensive coordinator Brent Venables' basic game plan, spiced with timely blitzes, made the Texas backfield look like a crowded State Fair corny dog line.
Romping to a 55-17 win, the Sooners harassed the Longhorns' two young quarterbacks the entire game.
“We went old school, played more 4-3,” Venables said. “I was really pleased to see our guys up front play really good.”
The Sooners recorded five turnovers, eight sacks, seven quarterback hurries and broke up six passes.
The stat that had OU defenders buzzing was their defensive touchdowns outscoring the Longhorns 18-17.
“It doesn't get much better than that,” said defensive tackle Casey Walker. “We had a good week of preparation and executed. We practiced hard last week. We practiced harder than Florida State week.”
OU's defense was so dominant it looked as if the Sooners were given Harsin's game plan.
“The biggest thing was preparation, not getting caught up in all the different shifts and movement,” said defensive end Frank Alexander. “No quarterback wants to get hit. We wanted to get pressure on them and did that for the most part all day.”
The Sooners blitzed frequently, but Venables said the timing of the blitzes was the biggest factor.
“Everything we did was very calculated,” Venables said. “We looked at tendencies, what they like to do in certain situations. We actually were pretty simple in some of the pressures. It wasn't really anything exotic.”
A good example was the first of OU's three defensive scores.
Late in the first half, Aaron Colvin charged off the corner on a safety blitz, forcing Texas freshman quarterback David Ash to sidestep to avoid a sack. Ash hurried his throw. Cornerback Demontre Hurst read the play perfectly and returned an interception 55 yards for a touchdown.
“When we blitz I know the ball is going to come out quick,” Hurst said. “When the quarterback scrambles he has to think twice about where he's going to throw it. It's great when it leads to a sack or an interception.”
Even when Harsin pulled out a trick play the Sooners were ready.
“Those plays work all the time because they get leverage on you,” Venables said. “We weren't going to let them get comfortable that way.”
Texas never got comfortable.
The Longhorns didn't reach the red zone until late in the third quarter when they marched to the 14-yard line. And that opportunity turned into disaster.
Three plays later the Longhorns faced a fourth-and-49 and punted:
* Ash fumbled the snap on first down, losing four yards.
* He was sacked by Tony Jefferson for a 15-yard loss on second down.
* Ronnell Lewis sacked Ash for a 20-yard loss on third down.
“Straight domination,” Hurst said. “Our defense came ready to play. We really showed up today. I feel we can play this way the rest of the season.”
The Sooners held the Longhorns to 259 yards and one offensive touchdown which was scored in the waning minutes of a rout.
OU's defense has been solid in wins over Florida State and Texas. The only concern was Missouri 532 yards.
“We can't ride that rollercoaster,” said linebacker Tom Wort. “If we have another game like we did against Missouri we might get beat. After Florida State we kind of had a hangover. We can't have that.”
But outside of Missouri game, this defense has shown it might be one of the top units in the Bob Stoops era.
Venables doesn't like to compare different units. He would never make an evaluation until after the season. But he was extremely pleased with Saturday's performance.
“Our guys were impressive today. I'm not going to downplay that,” Venables said. “They played great, with focus and purpose and great leadership... The defenses that have given us a chance to play in the national championship are the ones that have gotten better.”