Greg Davis vs. The Oklahoma Defense

Pigskin pundits say this year&#146;s OU defense may be it&#146;s best in history -- better even than the previous two units that held Texas to 80 net yards rushing (that would be a combined 80 yards, friends, not an average). But, hey!, is the Sooner defense any match for offensive coordinator <B>Greg Davis</B>?

Okay, this is serious stuff. The Sooners check in this week as the nation’s No. 2 defense (245.4 ypg), trailing only Nebraska (218.6). Oklahoma is No. 4 against the pass (141.2 ypg) and No. 27 against the run surrendering 104.2 ypg. (Don’t ask how Texas’ rush defense ranks this week.)

About the only consolation, as Davis prepares his game plan, is that you won’t have to worry about the likes of DT Tommie Harris, LB Teddy Lehman, FS Brandon Everage and CB Derrick Strait after this season.

"They say they have the best defense that they’ve ever had," Davis said, "and I have to agree."

It’s a misconception, Davis contends, that the teams to have beaten Oklahoma (Texas A&M, Oklahoma State) did so only because they hit the deep ball.

"The two teams that had the most success were able to stay two-dimensional," he said Tuesday. "You have to be able to run the ball. The games where they (Sooners) have not been successful the past couple of years, the (opponent) has been able to run the ball some."

In games where opponents became one-dimensional against Oklahoma, the Sooner defense "made then look terrible."

"The running game’s going to be hard," Davis said, "but the fact that you’re running it gives you the opportunity to throw it. We’re gonna continue to try (to run the ball). I think we’re moving forward at this point."

The Sooners base out of 50 front that has been so stout that the only teams to have rushed for any appreciable yard against their defense have had running quarterbacks (Texas A&M’s Reggie McNeal, Missouri’s Brad Smith, while Oklahoma State has countered with a steady diet of SE Rashaun Woods).

"Their base defense has stayed the same and they do a good job of teaching it," Davis said. "They’ve added to it as the players evolved."

One of the rubs on Davis is that he plays it too close to the vest in high-profile ballgames like the one on tap for 2:30 p.m., (Central), Saturday in the Cotton Bowl.

"Two years ago we threw 40 times against Oklahoma and we lost the ballgame," Davis recalled. "We lost the game because we turned (the ball) over."

When asked if he wished he had been more conservative, Davis said, "I wish we hadn’t turned it over."

The turnover bug was just as infectious in 2002, as QB Chris Simms tossed three interceptions and completed just 12 of 29. Sooner QB Nate Hybl actually threw four picks, but his teammates could compensate for his miscues with 266 net yards rushing, big plays on special teams and, of course, their suffocating defense.

"The more wide open you play the more opportunity you have for turnovers. Obviously, you’ll have more opportunities for turnovers if you throw 50 times a game. At the same time, you have to give your guys some chances."

Davis said Texas will certainly "take some deep shots" before adding, "If you look at the explosives (runs of 12-plus yards and completions of 14-plus yards) tapes on them, it’s going to be a pretty short meeting."

In short, nobody moves the ball consistently against the Sooners.

"In the end, I don’t need to do any one thing to be successful," Davis said.

Indeed. The coordinator and the Horns need to do a lot of things (well) to be successful against the Sooners.

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