OU 'D' Continues to Grind

NORMAN, Okla. -- A lot has to be said about the way the OU defense has performed throughout the first seven games this year.

The group has kept several stout offenses in check, including Tulsa, Miami, Texas and OU's most recent opponent, Kansas.

And it was an especially impressive feat to shut down the Jayhawks like the Sooner defense did, considering the combination of a talented quarterback in Todd Reesing, along with weapons along the perimeter like wide receivers Kerry Maier and Dezmon Briscoe.

"Really again, [I'm] proud of our guys [to be this successful] against a good quality opponent on the road," said OU defensive coordinator Brent Venables. "[I've] got great respect for their offensive staff and Coach Mangino and those players on offense. They just do a fabulous job against everybody, and it was, again, a collective effort defensively front and back."

To realize how successful the defense actually was, consider some of these stats Kansas had posted.

Coming into the game, the Jayhawks had rolled off eight straight games with at least 400 total yards of production.

Their line Saturday was only 305.

KU had also scored 30 points in eight consecutive games.

That, of course, was shattered as well when the Jayhawks barely mustered 13.

"To come in here on an away game with a great offense like Kansas and to hold them to 13 points, it's huge for us," said sophomore linebacker Travis Lewis.

And that really just highlights the way the season has been on the defensive side of the ball.

The Sooners are only giving up 264.9 yards per game compared to 367.7 last year, and opponents are only scoring 10.1 points per game against them compared to 24.5 a season ago.

Also, OU has forced 13 turnovers, including six interceptions and seven fumbles, up to this point.

In addition, no offense has managed to score in the first quarter this season against the Sooners, a streak that dates back nine games, including the Big 12 Championship game against Missouri and National Championship against Florida.

So, clearly, the Sooners have been doing something right.

Junior defensive tackle Gerald McCoy just attributes it to work throughout the week leading up to the game.

"It's preparation man," McCoy said. "You've got to know what's coming at you, know when it's coming and how it's going to come and then just make adjustments."

Perhaps that, as well as the obvious factor of a more experienced defense, accounts for why the Sooners are so much better this year on that side of the ball.

"We just really took it personally this year," Lewis said. "We didn't play really good defense at all last year. [Other teams] were able to run the ball. They were able to throw the ball. They were able to do anything they wanted."

But opponents haven't been able to say the same this year, and it's something the Sooners are using to build on.

"We made a point to come in here and make a statement," Lewis said. "We've been playing good defense all year. Our goal is to get better every week."


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