→Columnist Berry Tramel and OU writer John Helsley debate an issue on OU football.
Is there reason for concern with the OU defense?
John Helsley: First, let me be clear, this isn’t a Brent Venables bashing. BV’s doing what he can without a main man at middle linebacker. And since Ryan Reynolds went down, the hole in the defense has been exposed as significant. The last two weeks, average offenses have gouged the unit for too many big plays. Better offenses lie ahead.
Berry Tramel: No. There’s no concern about the OU defense, other than it’s playing in a video-game league. Kansas State had 17 possessions vs. OU and scored five touchdowns. That’s not great defense, but it’s acceptable.
Helsley: But it’s Kansas State, which scored all of 13 against Colorado. They gave some guy named Ernie Pierce – 11 catches, 176 yards – his 15 minutes of fame. Deon Murphy and Brandon Banks combined for 12 grabs, 239 yards and a score. The week before, it was Dezmon Briscoe going off for 12 receptions and 269 yards. These aren’t guys you highlight with the video controller. They’re coming — Michael Crabtree, Dez Bryant.
Tramel: Here’s a stat to put alongside that yardage — seven takeaways the last two weeks. K-State committed five turnovers and KU committed two. Any defense that averages 3.5 takeaways is playing winning football. Every coach at every level mentions turnovers first when talking about victory. Everyone seems to forget that when trashing the OU defense.
Helsley: The turnovers have been critical, no doubt. But those are seriously flawed teams making those turnovers. Kansas, for all the hype from a year ago, when it avoided the big boys of the Big 12 South, ain’t all that. Good teams (see Longhorns, Texas) won’t commit such gaffes. Will Tech and OSU?
Tramel: I assume not. But the truth is, OU’s defense is playing about as solid as the other defenses among the Big 12 South heavyweights. We’ve got to realize that the game has changed. When a team gets 17 possessions, you’re not going to win 55-10.