"They are a mix of both physical and finesse," said George of the Sooner defense. "They have a solid defense and can do both, but they are a very physical defense. At the same time I have a lot of confidence in my game and I have confidence in my teammates, and I hope that confidence will resonate through to some of the younger players to get them to feel the same way."
When facing an Oklahoma defense known for its physicality and speed, one must have a lot of confidence. Much of that confidence is developed through practice and preparation, and then making a comparison to how the team stacks up against film.
"Our offensive coaches have been stressing tempo to us and to get that up," said George. "It's been very difficult during practice and it has been very winded, but that's good and that's going to get us ready for the game - trying to get the defense to fly around as much as possible, and we've got some great scout team guys. To make plays and be fast is what we need them to do to get us ready."
At the cornerback position, the Sooners have two talented upperclassman. First is 6-foot, 192-pound junior Dominique Franks (#1), who was named to the All-Big 12 First-Team by the Dallas Morning News and Second-Team by coaches and the AP. Franks led the defense with two touchdowns. One was from a fumble return against Texas A&M and the other on an interception against Nebraska. Franks also saw double duties fielding punts during the 2007 and 08 seasons.
On the opposite side of Franks playing the boundary corner position is 6-foot-1-inch, 200-pound senior Brian Jackson (#2). Jackson was selected as a Big-12 honorable mention by the Associated Press, and finished last season fourth on the team in tackles (66).
There is some youth at safety. At the strong safety position is 6-foot, 208-pound redshirt sophomore Sam Proctor, who saw action last year on special teams.
At free safety is 6-foot-1-inch, 193-pound junior Quinton Carter (#20), who saw action as a starter in two games last year in the Oklahoma nickel package. Considered a big hitter, Carter had earned a reputation as one of the secondary's most physical players.
"Their speed can't be overlooked," said George. "They have great game-speed and are good cover guys. I'm not sure they've seen the quality of tight ends that we have here, and we have some great young receivers here. They may try and test our receivers early, but we have confidence in our receivers and think they'll do a great job, but they do have great cornerbacks and safeties in their backfield."
The experience of the Cougar tight ends will aid in the matchups against the Oklahoma safeties, but what about at the linebacker corps? The Sooners will field 6-foot-2-inch, 225-pound senior Ryan Reynolds (#4) at the Mike linebacker position. This will be the first game for Reynolds since he suffered an ACL tear in 2008 in the sixth game of the season. He was an honorable mention All-Big 12 selection by the AP.
"They've had some problems at middle linebacker and so we're not sure who is going to be starting there," said George. "We think he's going to be a young guy and don't know who is going to be starting there. We think he's going to be a young guy, so we haven't seen a whole lot of film on him, but we have seen some film on their corners, safeties and outside linebackers and defensive line and that's definitely a strong point on their defense."
At Will (weak side) linebacker is 6-foot-2-inch, 232-pound sophomore Travis Lewis (#28). In 2008 Lewis was named the Big-12 Defensive Newcomer of the Year by the AP. He was also selected as the Big-12 Defensive Freshman of the Year.
"They're a little young at some positions, especially at middle linebacker and [we] know they've had some injuries and problems there," said George. "However, they're going to come ready to play. One thing that makes Oklahoma different from most college teams is they are very deep, and so they can just bring guys in and they'll do a great job."