Brent Venables said after Monday’s practice that was “incredibly disappointed” with the way the Sooner defense started and ended the 38-28 win over Missouri. OU allowed the Tigers to score touchdowns on their first and third possessions, then touchdowns on their final two in the fourth quarter.
Venables pointed to the “explosive plays,” rushing total and turnover battle as what most disturbed him. Missouri bested the Sooners in all three categories. OU gave up several big plays, surrendered 241 rushing yards and failed to pick up a turnover.
“You lose two of those three categories, you usually lose the game,” Venables said.
All wasn’t bad. Venables praised the individual efforts of the defensive line, end Frank Alexander specifically. Against Missouri, Alexander finished with six tackles, 1 ½ for loss, a sack and a quarterback hurry.
“Frank is playing great,” Venables said. “Had a monster game. The guys up front all played well. The defensive line played really well.”
Most of the issues were with the back eight, which at times, turned guys loose in the passing game. Venables blamed some fo the problems on a lousy week of bad practices, which Venables said has been rare with this group.
“We didn’t play like we were capable of playing. … But we won. We had a lot of great individual plays, and a lot of great team plays,” Venables said. “The guys came back today with a great attitude. A focused attitude, owning what was bad and what was good.”
OU USED ITS 50 defense quite a bit against Missouri, using six defensive backs to defend the Tigers’ spread attack. The Sooners debuted the defense against Oklahoma State last season and had success in OU’s 41-31 win over the Cowboys.
The defensive package uses one defensive tackles, two defensive ends and two hybrid positions on the perimeter which are manned by several different players including Corey Nelson, Tony Jefferson and Gabe Lynn, who saw a lot of time at that spot against Missouri.
“With teams that like to spread the field, four wide, five wide, it gives us the advantage of having a lot of great cover guys on the field," cornerback Demontre Hurst said. “It worked well so we’ve kind of rolled with it. It’s great against teams that like to spread the field.”
The 50 defensive package gives the Sooners plenty of options and versatility. Against Florida State, Nelson and Jefferson often lined up at the perimeter positions and used their aggressiveness and speed to help slow the Seminoles running game and rush the quarterback. Against Missouri, Lynn replaced Nelson to give OU three cornerbacks (Lynn, Hurst and Jamell Fleming) on the field with Jefferson, Aaron Colvin and Javon Harris.
HURST HAS BEEN ONE of the Sooners’ best players, on either side of the ball, this season.
The junior doesn’t show up much on the stat sheet, he has eight tackles, one pass breakup and one forced fumble in three games, but that’s a good thing for a cornerback in this era of pass happy offenses.
“When they come to your side and you show [up] they aren’t going to run that play again,” defensive coordinator Brent Venables said. “If Demontre has his guy covered, they’re going to see that. Demontre’s playing at a very consistent level, very confident level.”
Few teams have been willing to repeatedly test Hurst, who is playing arguably the best football of his career.
“I hope I’m building that reputation," Hurst said of becoming a lockdown cornerback. “I’m just trying to develop each and every game. I think I’m giving the coaches the confidence in me."
But don’t expect the Preseason All-Big 12 selection to begin baiting quarterback by letting receivers open a la Deion Sanders.
“I’m not quite there yet, I don’t want to be like that,” he said with a smile. “Once I’m on them I’m locking on. I’m not into the baiting part yet, maybe down the road but not right now.”
If Hurst continues to play at a high level, he would give the Sooners’ coaching staff the option to design defenses around his coverage abilities, thus potentially freeing up a OU defender to double cover opposing receivers.
* Wideout Kenny Still practiced Monday and should be good to go this weekend. Stills sat out the Missouri game after suffering symptoms of a concussion late in the week.
* Stoops said Jimmy Stevens remains injured with a muscle pull and that Michael Hunnicutt will be OU’s kicker. Hunnicutt nailed a 26-yard try against Missouri.
* Stoops said he had no problem with pollsters dropping OU from No. 1 to 2 in the latest AP poll, replacing the Sooners with LSU. “You have to respect the schedule,” LSU has played, Stoops said. The Tigers have beaten three Top 25 opponents, all away from home.
* As expected, Stoops said Gabe Ikard will replace Ben Habern at center (Habern is out with a broken forearm) and Stephen Good will come off the sidelines to start at left guard. “"It threw us a little bit,” Stoops said. “But we'll be fine."
* Tony Jefferson got into a war of tweets with Thunder basketball star Kevin Durant on Monday. “Kevin durant. Please stop talking trash about the sooners.. You play in Oklahoma. Regardless if you went to Texas. We support u #jerk :(,“ Jefferson tweeted. Later, Durant tried to play peacemaker: “no doubt homes!! No hard feelings..its a rivalry..if I went any other school I would love OU.”