The Norman Transcript

Sports

November 1, 2008

Sooners determined to play defense

All of Oklahoma’s players were born well into the 1980s. The famous line from a movie in the 1970s doesn’t resonate with them. But just like the character of Howard Beale in “Network,” Sooner defenders are mad as hell and not going to take it anymore.

Those exact words weren’t mouthed by any of the players this week as the fourth-ranked Sooners (7-1, 3-1 Big 12) prepared to face Nebraska (5-3, 2-2) at 7 tonight at Owen Field. But it sums up they way they’re feeling after the last two games.

The Sooner defense has been under siege since giving up over 30 points in the last three games.

“We have to step and make some plays,” defensive end Jeremy Beal said.

Clearly some guys have.

Despite giving up a very uncharacteristic amount of points, the Sooners have had the Big 12’s defensive player of the week three of the last four weeks. Linebacker Keenan Clayton got the award for his performance against Baylor. Safety Lendy Holmes took the honor two weeks ago and linebacker Travis Lewis claimed it following the Kansas State game.

Individuals playing well is one thing, but the Sooners haven’t appeared to have 11 all on the same page over the last three games.

Each player talks about a standard that isn’t being met.

“For us, it’s flat-out embarrassing,” middle linebacker Austin Box said. “We’re not used to giving up those kinds of yards as a defense.”

Defensive coordinator Brent Venables points out the things OU is doing right. It’s only allowing 28.8 percent of opponents’ third-down conversions. It’s tied for the league lead in sacks. It still ranks second in the conference in total defense, even while it allows at 345 yards a game.

Still, the players say none of that matters when one thing is going wrong.

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