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OU defensive coordinator Brent Venables won the X’s and O’s chess match with Oklahoma State offensive coordinator Dana Holgorsen.Watching film of Oklahoma’s 47-41 win, Venables installing the â€œ50 Defenseâ€ the week of Bedlam kept the Cowboys’ No. 1-ranked offense out of rhythm other than two long TD drives.
The â€œ50â€ features three defensive linemen, a tackle and two defensive ends. Jeremy Beal and Tony Jefferson played outside linebacker near the line of scrimmage. Each has the option to play the run or drop into coverage. It also allows Venables to blitz middle linebacker Austin Box or keep him in coverage. â€œAny time you’re dropping eight in coverage you have to stuff the running game,â€ said linebacker Travis Lewis. â€œWe pretty much made them one dimensional.â€ The Sooners held Doak Walker Award finalist Kendall Hunter to a season-low 55 rushing yards, and they held the Cowboys to a season-low 19 first downs and 379 yards, OSU’s second-lowest total all season. Four consecutive defensive series after OSU tied the game 24-24 prevented the Cowboys from taking the lead, forcing them to play catch-up the entire fourth quarter. After OSU scored on its opening drive of the second half, on the Cowboys’ next four possessions they punted three times, including two three-and-outs. The fourth series made it a two-possession game when Ronnell Lewis tipped Brandon Weeden’s pass that Box intercepted. How difficult was it to install a new-look defense in one week? â€œIt’s different than how we do our long yardage, but it’s something we did a lot in the summer,â€ said OU coach Bob Stoops. â€œIt’s something we’ve been tinkering with. Because of that it’s something our players had a familiarity with. They picked it up quickly.â€ Mixing in occasional blitzes, the Sooners didn’t record a sack but got some pressure. With eight players often in coverage, Weeden didn’t have a lot of open receivers. â€œThe way we covered it made him think more and squeeze it a little more and not be quite as decisive where he was going with it,â€ Stoops said. Other observations:
Tight end James Hanna had several pivotal catches, the biggest being a game-clinching 76-yard touchdown reception. But Hanna made another key play when he recovered a fumble on a kickoff after OSU pulled to within 14-10 in the second quarter. The Sooners scored on the drive to push their lead to 21-10. … DeMarco Murray ran hard, fighting for extra yards to move the chains. … Freshman running back Roy Finch has speed and quickness but also delivers some powerful blocks. … The offensive line produced several key blocks on third-and-short situations. … Jarvis Jones started at left tackle. Donald Stephenson was in the rotation but Jones played more snaps than Stephenson for the first time this season.
Austin Box’s diving interception was one of the game’s biggest plays. Box has solidified the middle linebacker position after replacing Tom Wort. … Jeremy Beal took advantage of a matchup change when OSU moved Levy Adcock to left tackle after Nick Martinez left with an injury. … Ronnell Lewis was disruptive, establishing himself as the leading candidate to fill Beal’s spot next season. … Safety Javon Harris was flagged for a late-hit penalty on a kickoff but played well (eight tackles) after replacing Jonathan Nelson (concussion). Harris’ biggest play was an open-field tackle to force a punt with the game tied 24-24. … Cornerback Demontre Hurst had his best tackling game, preventing yards after the catch. … The first of Quinton Carter’s two interceptions set up a 30-yard TD drive that pushed the lead to 14-3.
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