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

OU also failed to generate a pass rush against Missouri quarterback Blaine Gabbert. Against spread teams, three guys can get worn out chasing the quarterback play after play.

"Obviously depth is going to help you rush the passer up front if you have it," Venables said. "We don't right now so we have to be creative and find other ways to create that pressure."

The Sooners had some success with a 3-4 package, inserting backup weakside linebacker Corey Nelson. Would the Sooners also consider blitzing more?

"If you start bringing people you have less guys in coverage. You're more vulnerable," Venables said. "There's a delicate balance. We have to find ways to be better at both. But it all starts first and foremost with the run game. If they're able to run the ball you have to put more guys in (the box) and fewer guys in coverage."

Generating a pass rush will be critical when the Sooners face spread offenses like Oklahoma State, Baylor and Texas A&M. All three are balanced, capable of running and throwing.

"The secondary can't cover all day," Beal said. "When the D-line doesn't get any pressure it's harder on them. That's why (Missouri) picked us apart. But we have to put it behind us. You watch the film and you move on."

In the bottom line category, the Sooners rank 44th nationally in scoring defense (21.4). But if the defense doesn't improve it could force the offense to win some shootouts the final month of the season.

"When they spread you out, it's all of us working together," said cornerback Demontre Hurst. "The D-line has to get a pretty good pass rush. The linebackers and DBs have to get a body on receivers, mess up the timing on their routes and not let them run free. It's all of us working together."

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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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