Oklahoma vs. TCU: Sooners Defense Shows It Can Win Games Too
With the emergence of Blake Bell at quarterback post-Trevor Knight injury, much of the talk about Oklahoma's success has been on offense.
But the Sooners proved Saturday night in a 20-17 win over TCU that defense could win a game too.
It started with a jaw-dropping streak that extended into the third quarter. For the first seven drives, TCU failed to get a first down on offense.
Twenty-one plays, 18 yards.
Granted, TCU has been a bad first-half team this season and it's hard to tell on any given series what quarterback Trevone Boykin is going to do. Since the Frogs are unable to play an entire game consistently, especially on offense, Oklahoma's 13-0 halftime lead looked insurmountable.
Things started changing in the second half, though. The Frogs were finally able to get on the board with an 11-play drive that spanned 45 yards and resulted in a field goal.
That's when Gary Patterson pulled out the trickery with an onside kick, which TCU recovered. Another eight-play drive that resulted in a touchdown, and it was suddenly a three-point game.
It was a tough couple of series for the Sooners defense back-to-back, and the Horned Frogs were able to score one more touchdown before the night was over, but this has to be considered a solid performance on that side of the ball overall.
The OU offense certainly wasn't pulling away. After shutting down TCU in the first half, the Sooners who found themselves unable to move the ball. Save for a 76-yard touchdown run by running back Brennan Clay, OU had three consecutive three-and-outs to start the second half and 84 yards for the rest of the game.
TCU may not be the most consistent team, but it does have one of the better defenses in the Big 12 and easily the best secondary. For reasons that boggle the mind, Bell thought it would be wise to throw to the area of the field covered by TCU cornerback Jason Verrett.
Surprisingly enough, it wasn't. There is arguably no better individual defender in the Big 12, and better cornerback in the country, than Verrett. For as improved as OU's passing game has been in recent weeks, TCU's secondary did an outstanding job of keeping big plays limited.
With the exception of Texas Tech, Oklahoma may not see a defense this good for the rest of the season. In turn, and barring an uncharacteristically bad offensive day, OU's defense probably won't have to shoulder the responsibility of winning a game like it did Saturday.
Oklahoma's defense will still be challenged, no doubt. Baylor continues to put up a barrage of points without mercy. How will the Sooners handle the best offense in the country when they meet on Nov. 7?
But there's still another month to go before that's a pressing issue. The thing to focus on in the meantime is how much better OU is on defense, especially run defense, than it was a year ago when the final memory was watching Johnny Manziel light up the scoreboard at the Cotton Bowl.
It has to be good to know if you're Bob Stoops (and Mike Stoops) that you can rely on the defense if needed. Even if it's only needed on occasion.
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