NORMAN – In a season opener filled with consistency, the Oklahoma Sooners found a calm beat on its defensive line.
Blown coverages in the secondary and missed assignments and tackles at linebacker. Unsteady running back production, inconsistent receivers and a quarterback performance that plummeted in the second half to one that didn’t really resemble the Heisman candidacy from the year before. Saturday was hardly a strong performance from just about any perspective for Oklahoma.
That is with exception of the Sooners’ defensive line. There were major questions at just about every defensive spot except defensive line, which returned two starters and a back-up primed for a starting role.
With starting defensive tackle Matthew Romar finally healthy, the defensive looks set to be the heart of the Oklahoma defense.
“Definitely,” defensive end Matt Dimon said. “. . . I think going into camp, we knew that was our role. We had the guys who have played a lot of games. We had the guys who have done a lot of stuff here. And we have depth. I think we held up our end of the deal. We just didn’t come out on top.”
Dimon quickly said that the defensive line could have done even more to help out the rest of the defense. The unit clearly understands that the defense is one unit, but the front three have a chance to set the tempo.
“Up front the guys played effectively and made some plays for us and gave us a chance to really be effective in the run game,” Oklahoma defensive coordinator Mike Stoops said. “Our ability to rush the quarterback has to continue to improve. We have to find ways that we can continue to get pressure on the quarterback.”
Starters Dimon, Charles Walker and Jordan Wade finished with a combined nine tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, one sack and three quarterback hurries. Now, Romar comes back and Austin Roberts gets more snaps.
Oklahoma held Houston to just 2.2 yards per carry on 40 attempts between mobile quarterback Greg Ward and Duke Catalon.
“We controlled what we could control. . . . Most games you do that, you usually end up on the other side of the scoreboard,” Dimon said. “At the end of the day, we are all in it together as a defense, and we just didn’t get it done.”