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:
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.
"I remember that play well," Venables said. "That series was when we started getting comfortable, in a groove, playing well together."
CLAY TAKEN TO HOSPITAL
Freshman running back Brennan Clay was carted off early in the fourth quarter. Clay caught a swing pass and was literally knocked out by Florida State safety Nick Moody. Medical officials removed Clay's facemask, strapped him to a board and transported him to the hospital.
"Everything so far has checked out well," coach Bob Stoops said after the game. "When he left the field he was responsive... He was moving everything... When he left in the ambulance for further tests he had a big smile on his face and he was talking. They just want to make sure they're not missing anything."
INJURY CHANGE STOOPS' DECISION?
With the Sooners leading 44-10 with less than 12 minutes to play, OU's first-team offense, including quarterback Landry Jones and Murray took the field. "That doesn't make any sense," said ABC analyst Matt Millen.
After Clay was carted off five plays later, backup quarterback Drew Allen and Jermie Calhoun replaced Jones and Murray.
FISHER RILES UP FANS
Sooner fans understandably became agitated in the waning minutes by Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher. Trailing 47-10 with 2:20 remaining, Fisher asked for a replay after OU recovered a fumble. Replays confirmed the original ruling. Fisher then called timeout with 53 seconds left to force a punt, drawing a chorus of boos.
With second-team players on the field, the Seminoles scored on the final play of the game, a 47-yard pass to which Fisher said: "That's something we can build on, what we did at the end. I was proud our guys didn't quit. That's what we want no matter what the score is."
OU FANS PULL OUT TOMAHAWK CHOP
Seminole fans were boisterous with their legendary tomahawk chop during pre-game and following the first-quarter touchdown drive. But later in the game, OU fans mocked Florida State, Sooner fans chanting, "Whoa, oh, oh, oh," with the right-arm chopping motion following OU touchdowns.
Murray became only the second player in school history to reach 1,000 yards in receptions, rushing and kick returns, joining Buster Rhymes... Former OU All-American Blake Griffin, the first pick of the 2009 NBA Draft, attended Saturday's game and was introduced late in the first quarter... Tress Way punted only three times after punting eight times against Utah State... James Hanna's 46-yard touchdown catch was the first TD reception by an OU tight end since Jermaine Gresham's touchdown against Florida in the 2008 national title game... Twelve true freshmen played against Florida State, including cornerback Aaron Colvin playing the final two series.
SOONERS RECEIVE HAWAII GIFTS
Alex Prosperi, media relations director for the EA Sports Maui Invitational, attended Sooner Fan Fest Saturday to present OU men's basketball coach Jeff Capel with a hand-crafted, eight-foot surfboard and OU men's basketball players with leis and grass skirts.
"I don't think anyone on this team has ever even tried to get on a surf board," said senior Cade Davis. "But this was great, a chance to sign autographs for fans and show our appreciation."
The Sooners open the Maui tournament Nov. 22 against Kentucky. Other teams in the tournament include: Connecticut, Michigan State, Virginia, Washington, Wichita State and host Chaminade.
"It's an honor to play in Maui," Capel said. "It's one of the most prestigious preseason tournaments there is. This year it's a great field. For them to come all the way to Norman means a lot to us."
THOMPSON KNOWS QB PRESSURE
Former OU quarterback Paul Thompson, who runs a marketing business in Tulsa, signed autographs Saturday during Fan Fest. Thompson knows all about the pressure Jones faces as the starting quarterback.
"That's part of the job," Thompson said. "You take the good with the bad. (Jones) has been all right. People are quick to criticize. It was the first game. Sometimes it takes the offense a little bit longer to get in sync."