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With Ryan Broyles gone, OU's hopes rest on Sooner defense

COMMENTARY — Oklahoma's defense rose to the challenge in the Sooners' 41-25 win over Texas A&M. With Ryan Broyles out for the season, OU's hopes depend on efforts like that.
Oklahoman Modified: November 5, 2011 at 10:20 pm •  Published: November 5, 2011

NORMAN – Ryan Broyles is finished as a Sooner, his knee ligament twisted beyond easy repair. Even before OU's greatest receiver ever limped off Owen Field, crestfallen that his collegiate career is over, the Sooner offense wasn't clicking all that great.

But before we write off this Sooner season, don't forget the hope that rose from a 41-25 rout of Texas A&M. The OU defense has again grown fangs.

Against overall offensive personnel that Brent Venables called the best to invade Owen Field since 2001 (Kansas State) and the best O-line the Sooners had faced anywhere since 2005 (Texas), OU's defense excelled.

The Sooners stuffed the Aggies. OU allowed three touchdowns, but two came in the meaningless fourth quarter, after the Sooners led 41-10. The other was on a 79-yard pass play late in the second quarter. Those things happen.

But OU's defense also produced four takeaways, two by Jamell Fleming, who, don't forget, was missing in action when Texas Tech pulled that inexplicable stunner a fortnight ago. Four takeaways and just 10 points allowed through three quarters is championship football.

“We've got to step up our game, knowing a playmaker like Ryan is out,” said safety Javon Harris.

The Sooners certainly stepped it up against the Aggies. A&M has been a massive disappointment this season, but only because it blew big leads. The Ag offense has been productive.

I don't know if I buy Venables' hyperbole, but I'm in no great position to argue. This much is absolute: quarterback Ryan Tannehill and his offense has been excellent all season, and when this was a ballgame, the Aggies were stunted.

“Today, we played with a lot of tenacity,” Harris said. “We've had to go out and grind. We knew we can play strong, come up, make hits, force the turnovers.”

Here's how the OU defense made it easy on the offense. The Sooners blew open this one with a 28-0 third quarter, aided by a stiff wind. But three of those four OU touchdowns covered just 31, 28 and 39 yards, the first after a 14-yard punt and the latter two after turnovers.

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by Berry Tramel
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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