Oklahoma's defense has surrendered 52 plays of 10 yards or longer. The Sooners have compensated by forcing pivotal turnovers. An example: defensive end Pryce Macon's forced fumble in the fourth quarter of a 31-29 win at Cincinnati.
The Sooners rank fourth nationally in turnover margin (+2.0 a game). OU has forced 12 turnovers (six interceptions and six fumbles) and has turned it over only four times.
"Everything else looks pretty sloppy but our turnover margin is really helping us," said safety Quinton Carter. "That reason alone is why we're winning. We're a long way away (defensively) but we're 4-0. You can't be disappointed with that. We only can get better."
IS LINEBACKER TOM WORT TRYING TOO HARD?
Middle linebacker Tom Wort plays with a lot of energy but at times has been out of position.
"I need to get my vision opened up a little bit and know where my help is," Wort said. "Coach (Brent Venables) says I sometimes try to do too much. There are 10 other players. Sometimes I get myself out of position because I try to do too much."
Venables was asked if one option might be moving Travis Lewis to middle linebacker and play freshman Corey Nelson at weakside linebacker.
"That would be one of the last things we would want to do, to move a guy that is an awfully, awfully good player where he is," Venables said. "To move him somewhere else, probably in all likelihood he needs a few games. Who knows how long that learning curve would be ...
"I'm not panicking. Tom has done really well for a redshirt freshman. We as a staff feel he's the best guy. Just like Travis did when he was a young player you take your lumps at times when you play young guys. That's where we're at. That's why I said before the season you wish you had (Austin) Box because he has experience. Experience is everything. And then you can bring a young guy along."
Sidelined by a back injury, Box is projected to return after the bye week and might play against Iowa State.
OFFENSE PLAYS TO O-LINE STRENGTHS
Offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson said the running game needs to improve starting with more physical play up front. Wilson, though, said it's unrealistic to think this offensive line can play smash mouth like some OU units in the past.
"We're not a brute force offensive line with big guys," Wilson said. "We're a little bit more of a quick-footed athletic deal. That's why some of our plays are perimeter oriented. We're trying to play to the strength of our linemen. We're not sitting up there with 340- or 350-pound tackles like big Phil (Loadholt) and can maul guys."
TEXAS QUARTERBACK GARRETT GILBERT HAS SOME MOBILITY
Texas is talking about sprinkling in some zone read option that Vince Young and Colt McCoy ran. Garrett Gilbert isn't as fast as Young or McCoy but has some mobility. Gilbert has rushed for only 32 yards. But if you eliminate five sacks, Gilbert has averaged 5.3 yards on 14 carries.
"He's a strong quarterback. He has a nice arm and a nice supporting cast around him," Carter said. "He can run. Everyone thinks he's not as good a runner as Colt McCoy but if you watch film he's a really good runner."
OU FOOTBALL HISTORY COMES TO THE BIG SCREEN
A history of Oklahoma football video series is headed for the big screen on Oct. 11. Warren Theaters in Moore will show the world premiere of part one, Birth of a Champion. One screening begins at 7 p.m., the other at 7:15 p.m.ï¿½ Each theater seats 445 people.
The first installment of the four-part series chronicles the beginning of the OU program in 1895 through the hiring of Bud Wilkinson. Other installments include the Wilkinson, Switzer and Stoops eras.
Tickets are on sale for $8 and can be purchased at Warren Theater or warrentheaters.com.
CBS' Spencer Tillman, former Sooner running back and narrator for the series, will be in attendance and sign autographs in the lobby before the screenings. SoonerVision is producing the series in conjunction with the school's multimedia rights holder, Sooner Sports Properties.
SOONERS' LOW DEFENSE RANKING A MATTER OF TACKLING, 'WILL'
The Sooners rank last in the Big 12 and 97th nationally in total defense. Missed tackles have contributed to several big plays.
"It's more of a want-to or a will," said safety Jonathan Nelson. "Some guys, including myself, aren't coming up with the fire to tackle. We just have to realize sometimes it's just you and the running back. You have to get him down. There isn't any half-stepping doing that."
Coach Bob Stoops said tackling is allowed in practice but defenders are prohibited from taking a teammate to the ground to prevent injuries.
By Mike Baldwin