OU football notebook: Sooners secondary quiets critics

by Michael Baldwin Modified: September 12, 2010 at 7:19 am •  Published: September 11, 2010

After getting burned for several big plays by Utah State in the opener, cornerbacks Jamell Fleming and Demontre Hurst and safety Jonathan Nelson earned some redemption in Oklahoma's 47-17 rout of Florida State.

Fleming, Nelson and nickel back Tony Jefferson consistently closed on routes to break up passes, combining for seven breakups.

"They were disappointed in themselves (last week)," said OU defensive coordinator Brent Venables. "They challenged things and were aggressive and sure of themselves... We needed them to play that way. Florida State has a terrific offense."

After watching Utah State's Diondre Borel throw for 341 yards, the Seminoles actually had more rushing yards than passing yards until backups played most of the fourth quarter. Linebacker Travis Lewis challenged the secondary early in the week and again before kickoff.

"This is what I was expecting last week," Lewis said. "I knew we had a great DB group. Before pre-game I said, 'Don't doubt yourself. Don't doubt this defense. Don't doubt this team, because as soon as you let doubt creep in you play like that.' I wanted them to know I had their back totally and today played like they're capable."

DEFENSE'S DOMINATION KEY TO ROUT

Florida State marched 80 yards on its opening possession to tie the game 7-7. From that point on, Oklahoma's defense dominated while OU quarterback Landry Jones and the offense built a commanding 44-7 lead.

Over their next nine possessions, the Seminoles were held to five first downs, punted seven times with two interceptions.

"That first drive kind of hit us in the mouth," said Lewis. "Starting with that second series we just went out and did our job. When the 1's came out in the fourth quarter and they had 212 yards I was like, 'That's a big-time difference from last week.' I'm a very happy camper."

Here's a look at how the OU defense held up after giving up the opening-drive touchdown to the Seminoles:

Start;Yds;Result

(1st Quarter)

Own 14;-10;punt

(2nd Quarter)

Own 20;37;punt

Own 18;19;punt

Own 40;4;punt

Own 32;-1;punt

(3rd Quarter)

Own 20;43;punt

Own 15;6;interception

Own 27;-2;interception

Own 16;23;punt

SOONERS DAMAGE PONDER'S HEISMAN HOPES

Florida State quarterback Christian Ponder is being touted for the Heisman, but after Saturday those hopes might take a hit. Ponder was 11 of 28 for 113 yards, two interceptions and no touchdowns.

"We got pressure with the front four and squeezed the pocket when they weren't getting there," Venables said. "He was having to make throws under duress. When we brought pressure guys were in good position on the back end, forcing him to hold the ball. Guys did a great job maintaining their rushing lanes. It was a great group effort."

RECEIVERS STEP UP

Bubble screens and swing passes. The Sooners devoured the Seminoles all day with short routes that produced medium gains to move the chains for 28 first downs. Only four pass plays were longer than 20 yards, yet OU threw for 394 yards.

Ryan Broyles had another huge game (12 catches, 124 yards). Offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson was pleased 12 players had at least one reception. Running backs combined for eight receptions, one reason Wilson said OU rushed for only 93 yards.

"It's an extension of the run game, so our run total didn't look as good," Wilson said. "But a lot of times those were runs we were throwing (to backs). Sometimes you want those stress-free passes where there isn't much tension on (Jones) or the receivers. It was nice to have that going."

MADU, ALEXANDER STRONG IN RETURN

Backup running back Mossis Madu, returning from a one-game suspension, rushed for 38 yards on 11 carries, easing DeMarco Murray's workload. Defensive end Frank Alexander missed the opener with a sprained ankle. Recording two sacks, Alexander didn't play the first series but was key in a three-and-out the next series.


by Michael Baldwin
Reporter
Mike Baldwin has been a sports reporter for The Oklahoman since 1982. Mike graduated from Okmulgee High School in 1974 and attended Oklahoma Christian University, graduating with a journalism degree in 1978. Mike's first job was sports editor...
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