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

“Our guys were really zoned in,” Venables said. “They anticipated what was coming. They had different mindsets on different calls. They were really on edge and played aggressively and were just really sure of themselves.”

The Sooner takeaways were mostly acts of aggression, including R.J. Washington's tip of a Tannehill pass that was intercepted by fellow d-end Ronnell Lewis, and Fleming's pull-apart from Aggie tailback Christine Michael.

That's the kind of help the Sooner offense will need in trying to rebuild without Broyles, one of the great security blankets in OU history. Whenever Landry Jones got in trouble, he could always dump the ball to Broyles for a short gain or more.

That crutch is now gone. And so is tailback Dominique Whaley, lost for the season against Kansas State a week ago. But no one will shed tears for the Sooners.

“Our expectations won't change,” said Bob Stoops, talking confidently as always, which is a good sign. More than one Sooner, and Stoops himself, referred to Broyles' injury as “heartbreaking,” but BCS computers and the Stillwater side of Bedlam don't care who takes the field for the Sooners. Or who doesn't.

Stoops talked of other receivers having to step in for Broyles, but truthfully, the best way to replenish his void is upgraded defense. I'd put more stock on Frank Alexander and Lewis and the gang getting even better than I would Trey Franks suddenly being a difference-maker.

“We need to peak,” Venables said. “Keep getting better. We'll be challenged, as we were today. Our guys rose to the challenge. Our guys are locked in.”

The Sooners had better be, without Ryan Broyles.

Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at btramel@opubco.com. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including AM-640 and FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.

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by Berry Tramel
Columnist
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...
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