Turnover edge key to OU's 4-0 start

OU football notebook: Defense has surrendered 52 plays of 10 yards or longer.
By Mike Baldwin, Staff Writer, mbaldwin@opubco.com Modified: September 29, 2010 at 6:09 pm •  Published: September 29, 2010

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.

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