Sooner defense in need of a quick fix

Oklahoma's defense ranks 80 nationally in total defense and many of their toughest test lie ahead.
By MIKE BALDWIN, mbaldwin@opubco.com Modified: October 28, 2010 at 1:24 pm •  Published: October 27, 2010

NORMAN — This isn't a typical Oklahoma defense.

The Sooners are ranked 80th nationally in total defense and still haven't faced some of their biggest tests.

Starting with Colorado on Saturday, OU will face four of the conference's top running backs in five weeks. But the toughest challenges will be the final three road games, when the Sooners face three of the nation's top offenses.

Four times OU has allowed more than 420 yards. Missouri compiled 486, including 178 rushing yards.

"It's stuff that plagued us before the Iowa State game — big plays, missed assignments and poor tackling," said defensive end Jeremy Beal. "We've got to get those things fixed. If we get those fixed we'll play pretty good defense."

Colorado's offense has struggled much of the season, but running back Rodney Stewart's 652 yards rushing rank fifth in the league.

"There are a number of things we can be better at, particularly stopping the run," said defensive coordinator Brent Venables. "Those guys inside are fighting like heck and doing everything they can. Other guys around them have to do a better job, too."

It's obvious the Sooners miss defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, the No. 3 pick in last year's NFL Draft. Adrian Taylor hasn't fully recovered from ankle surgery. And with Casey Walker (knee) and Daniel Noble (ankle) out with injuries, the Sooners are playing only three defensive tackles — Jamarkus McFarland, Stacy McGee and Taylor.

"We've forgotten about Gerald a long time ago," Venables said. "He's not making any more plays for us. Guys are working hard, trying their best. We're trying to find the best combination of guys that can help us. Some of the issues in the run game weren't really necessarily those guys.

"Some of it was we were in some bad calls. That's not on them. The ownership has to go around. The accountability has to go around. Close to half of (Missouri's rushing) yards our guys were at a disadvantage because we were in difficult calls. Sometimes we make bad calls believe it or not."

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Big 12 leading rushers

Player, Team;Avg.

1. Kendall Hunter, OSU;147.3

2. Daniel Thomas, K-St.;127.9

3. Taylor Martinez, Neb.;124.3

4. DeMarco Murray, OU;101.7

5. Rodney Stewart, Colo.;93.1

6. Jay Finley, Baylor;87.1

7. Christine Michael, A&M;84.6

Game by game breakdown of yards and points allowed by Oklahoma's defense:

Opponent;Yards;Pts.

Utah St.;421;24

Florida St.;345;17

Air Force;458;24

Cincinnati;461;29

Texas;373;20

Iowa St.;183;0

Missouri;486;36

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