The Norman Transcript

October 8, 2012

Climbing to relevance

By John Shinn
The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — Oklahoma jumped up in the polls to No. 13 in the Associated Press Top 25. Texas, however, sank four spots to No. 15 after its 48-45 loss to West Virginia on Saturday.

The means the Red River Rivalry won’t include a team ranked in the top 10 of the AP’s ranking for the first time since 1999. The Sooners are ranked No. 10 in the USA Today coaches poll.

Both teams are ranked for the seventh straight year and 12th time in the previous 13 years. OU’s 2005 squad was the last unranked team in the game.

He missed it: Defensive coordinator Mike Stoops will get to walk down the Cotton Bowl ramp for the first time in nine years on Saturday. He hasn’t been on the Sooner sidelines for a Texas game since 2003.

“It’s a special game,” he said after OU’s 41-20 victory over Texas Tech on Saturday. “This is what you come to Oklahoma for.”

OU went 4-1 from 1999-2003 during Stoops’ initial run as defensive coordinator. The Sooners won the last four during that run by a combined score of 177-54.

The blitzes arrived: For the first time this season, the Sooners used an extensive blitz package against Texas Tech. Both of its sacks came from blitzes by linebackers Corey Nelson and Frank Shannon. Cornerback Aaron Franklin intercepted a pass and tipped another that safety Javon Harris returned for a touchdown on blitzes.

“To be honest our first two games we didn’t want to show our blitzes. Kansas State, that isn’t a team where it benefits you much. We’ve only played three games coming into this week. We haven’t had a chance to show a lot of what we want to do,” OU coach Bob Stoops said. “Those guys are all capable up there, and when you start bringing other personnel with them, it turns them free to give them more opportunities to get to the quarterback.”

Multiple defense: Shannon saw his most extensive action of the season as middle linebacker in the Sooners’ dime (six defensive back) scheme. The redshirt freshman finished with six tackles. Sophomore Julian Wilson was also substantial playing dime as the sixth defensive back.

“I thought we matched up well in our coverage,” OU coach Bob Stoops said. “Frank had a heck of a game. Julian Wilson played a ton and he did well.”

New receiving options: OU spread the ball around to its receivers, and brand new targets emerged against Texas Tech. Freshman Durron Neal had two catches for 38 yards and saw his most extensive action of the season. Running back Damien Williams led the Sooners with 82 receiving yards on six catches. Williams had two catches in the first three games.

“We spread it around a lot today,” OU quarterback Landry Jones said. “I thought the receivers played really physical today. They did a good job and had to run through some trash. Tech kind of pressed a little bit more and the guys did a really good job playing physical and being where they are supposed to be and being precise.”

John ShinnFollow me @john_shinnjshinn@normantranscript.com

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