Sunday, October 9, 2011

Signature Win in Signature Series Signals Greatness

How dominating was Oklahoma's victory yesterday against Texas?

The Red River Rivalry clash in the Cotton Bowl was the 106th meeting between the two border schools. Only Oklahoma has scored 50 points or more in a single game in this series.

The Sooners have done it five times.

Three of those five times have happened in the Bob Stoops era since 1999.

The 106th meeting score of 55-17 represents the 6th highest margin of victory in the series. Third most points ever scored against Texas by Oklahoma. The other two? Yep, Bob Stoops-coached teams in 2003, 65-13 and 2000, 63-14.

Do you recognize a trend? Any time a single coach does what no other coach in the history of the winningest program in college football has done in 106 tries, not Wilkinson or Switzer, you begin to realize you are witnessing greatness.

The Sooners broke or tied six school defensive records yesterday. Not even during the hallowed days of Tubbs, Selmon, Casillas, Harris or McCoy has Oklahoma accomplished that feat.

1. 3 defensive touchdowns in one game.
2. 113 yards lost on 17 tackles behind the line of scrimmage.
3. Most sack loss of yards 84.
4. 2 fumble returns for touchdowns.
5. 8 sacks.
6. 17 total tackles for loss.

Bob Stoops'-coached teams have now scored 42 touchdowns on defense in his 13 year career.

"It's special to me," said Coach Stoops. "There's nothing more special for me than a defensive touchdown."

It's not by freak happenstance, luck or as the Texas media apologists would have you believe (due to an inexperienced Texas team) that these records were broken yesterday or defensive touchdowns scored. There are many reasons. Coaching. Talent. Speed. Focus. Purpose. Leadership.

However, here are three keys I noticed during yesterday's game that signified the true greatness we were witnessing:

Defensive End Pressure

I always like to watch Coach Bob Stoops during the game. He is the ultimate field general. Always in the middle of the action. Listening intently on his headset to his coordinators call the game on both sides of the ball.

Coach Stoops does the same thing before every play on the sidelines. He situates himself about 10-yards behind the play and with hands on knees intently watches the line of scrimmage.

Regardless of the schemes, multiple formation spread offenses and film study, that's where it all starts.

So like Coach Stoops, I watch the line of scrimmage. And yesterday I saw something I have never seen this year in Bob Stoops-coached defenses: a 4-man defensive end front. The Dallas Morning News verified this feat today.

Oh sure, Oklahoma's signature defense over the years has been a four-man front. But never before this year has Bob Stoops or Defensive Coordinator Brent Venables unleashed a four-man front consisting of soley defensive ends.

So why unveil this surprise defensive-alignment in the biggest rivalry game the Sooners have on their schedule? Surprise. Keeping Texas guessing which guys were coming. Pressure on the freshman and sophomore quarterbacks making their first OU/Texas game starts. Size. Speed. Athleticism:

Senior Frank Alexander is 6'4", 255 pounds.
Junior Ronnell Lewis--6'2", 244 pounds.
Junior David King--6'5", 273 pounds.
Junior R.J. Washington--6'4", 248 pounds.

The pressure created by these four defensive ends resulted in two fumbles recovered and three more fumbles forced.

And yes Texas fans, that was 6'5", 273 pound defensive end David King scooping up the fumble and rumbling 19 yards untouched for one of three Sooner touchdowns.

Gap Integrity

If you watch any football during the weekend, you'll hear more than one former football playing analyst talk about "gap integrity."

It sounds heavy but what it really means is being disciplined and staying in your lane or area during a play. Not being fooled by misdirection and play-action.

With former Boise State offensive coordinator and trick-master Bryan Harsin calling the plays for the Longhorns yesterday, never before was gap integrity more important.

And never was gap integrity more noticed than when Harsin called a reverse in the middle of the field with Longhorn Wide Receiver Miles Onyegbule. Only needing a block from quarterback David Ash, Harsin's trick play was destroyed when Sooner safety Aaron Colvin recognized the play and streaked into the backfield disrupting Onyegbule's attempt to get around him with a crushing leg tackle.

Gap integrity. The Sooners had it all day Saturday and this was just the most glaring example.


If you watched ESPN's preseason coverage of the Sooners you know that the Oklahoma defensive backs are a cocky bunch. They have named themselves the "Sharks."

Their ball-hawking ability is unsurpassed in college football. A talented, fast and physical bunch that takes their lead from their former defensive back head coach Bob Stoops.

So, it's not surprising that the Sooner defensive backs successfully defensed six passes, forced one fumble and returned it 56 yards for a touchdown and took one of two interceptions 55 yards for another touchdown.

Cornerbacks Demontre Hurst and Jamell Fleming took it to the house for two of the three Sooner defensive scores.

A record-setting, three defensive touchdowns by an aggressive defense that outscored the Longhorns 18-17.

One play signified the Oklahoma dominance yesterday. Late in the game Texas finally moved the ball into the Sooner red zone. However, here is the next three play sequence:

First Down--David Ash fumbles the snap and loses four yards.
Second Down--Tony Jefferson blitzes and sacks Ash for a loss of 15 yards.
Third Down--Ronnell Lewis sacks Ash for a 20-yard loss.
Fourth Down--Longhorns faced a fourth and 49 and punted.

"We went old school playing more 4-3," said Defensive Coordinator Brent Venables.

"They smelled blood and went after them," said Oklahoma Head Coach Bob Stoops.

Game balls to Defensive End Coach Bobby Jack Wright and Defensive Backs Coach Willie Martinez.

Oh and the offense was pretty good yesterday, too. Junior Landry Jones added his name to the early season Heisman talk by tossing 31 completions in 50 attempts for 367 yards and 3 touchdowns with no interceptions. All in slightly more than three quarters of play. Ryan Broyles scored a touchdown and his 9 receptions pulled him to within four receptions of the all-time NCAA record. And, sophomore sensation Kenny Stills pulled in two touchdowns on five receptions. Another Stills touchdown was called back for a suspect offensive interference call.


Oklahoma football teams have had six undefeated seasons since the modern era began with the end of World War II in 1945.

The Sooners have won five of their seven national championships in those undefeated seasons.

It's no accident that the Oklahoma undefeated teams featured a stout defense.

Bob Stoops said yesterday that his best Sooner defenses have gotten better as the season progresses.

For those Texas media apologists at Longhorn Network partner ESPN who were quickly spinning the Longhorn debacle in the Cotton Bowl yesterday as one caused by the 19 Texas freshman and sophomores on their 2-deep and 56 freshman or sophomores on their roster, I have some words of fact that will not sit well in the Burnt Orange Nation.

Oklahoma had 18 freshmen or sophomores on their 2-deep yesterday and there were 69 freshmen or sophomores on the Sooner roster.

For those media pundits in the AP poll who ranked OU #3 behind Alabama and LSU, you'll have no choice but to vote Oklahoma #1 if as in typical fashion, Bob Stoops' best defense in 13 years continues to get better the rest of the season.

And then there was Kansas.