Wednesday, October 5
Gameday Breakdown: Defense
We believe defenses should be evaluated as units, more so than offenses, so we’ll take a look at these two groups as a whole. For Oklahoma, as usual, they’re stout against the run. They rank third in the nation in rushing defense, allowing a paltry 65 yards per game. Of course, they haven’t faced a team with Vince Young and Jamaal Charles, but it’s an impressive number nonetheless.
The problems for the Sooners have been in the secondary, where they’re allowing 253 yards per game. It’s a big weakness for OU and one Greg Davis must work hard to exploit. As mentioned before, Texas doesn’t have the greatest receiving group in the world, but with the Sooners keyed in on stopping the run, there will be opportunities to get the ball down the field, something Greg Davis has absolutely refused to do in past Red River Shootouts. UCLA accrued a whopping 17 passing first downs against the Sooners. Texas can, and must, do the same.
On the other side, Texas’ defense is holding opponents to 258 total yards of offense per game. Two of those opponents were offensively challenged Louisiana-Lafayette and Rice, but it’s a very strong unit. The secondary is physical and experienced, the linebackers are speedy and tough, and the defensive line is ferocious.
ESPN’s Bruce Feldman ranked the Horns defense second in the nation, behind only Virginia Tech. I don’t know that it’s quite that good, but it’s certainly strong. Gene Chizik is a fantastic defensive coach, though Bob Stoops is no slouch either. Chizik has done a good job of putting together a great combination of strength and speed, and Texas is less blitz-happy this year than Greg Robinson's unit was last year, playing a more stay-home defense and filling holes.
The only cause for concern here was the poor tackling in the Missouri game. Fortunately, Texas picked a good week for lackluster tackling, and the coaches undoubtedly addressed it this week. There’s going to be some great hitting in this game, as there always is, but Oklahoma’s weak secondary gives Texas the edge.
Advantage: Moderate Texas Edge