The Norman Transcript

OU Football

April 13, 2014

Defense rules the day at spring game

NORMAN — Fans want to see offense in spring games, and there were a lot of devotees at Oklahoma’s Red-White Game on Saturday. If 43,500 in attendance were hoping for a big day from quarterback Trevor Knight, they walked out of Owen Field disappointed.

He was one of the reasons the Sooner fan base is so energized and the Sooners enter the 2014 season with such high expectations. Another rationale was on display Saturday, too.

“This is the most complete defense we’ve had since we’ve been here,” defensive coordinator Mike Stoops said. “When we get our players back and get our freshmen in here, we can be a very deep football team — at least deeper than we’ve been the last couple years for sure.”

OU’s starting defense — or at least the ones in uniform — were the dominant factor on Saturday. Knight was just 5 for 14 for 53 yards with an interception. Running backs Keith Ford and Alex Ross, who are the Sooners’ top two on the depth chart, combined for just 35 yards on 12 attempts.

The defensive starters just didn’t give up much.

“I felt like we played really good — the ones (starters) especially,” cornerback Zack Sanchez said. “… The defensive line and linebackers did a good job stopping the run and getting pressure on the quarterbacks, so it wasn’t that hard in the back end.”

In all due respect, Knight was without some key ingredients. Wide receiver Sterling Shepard, who will be the passing game’s focal point next season — sat out with a pulled hamstring. The offensive line was without three likely starters with left tackle Tyrus Thompson and guards Adam Shead and Nila Kasitati all in street clothes.

It makes a difference when a quarterback lacks an established primary receiver or the time to wait for him to get open. OU caused that kind of havoc in the first half on Saturday.

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