Sooner defense key to stopping Wildcats
Merrill Jones, The Oklahoma Daily
The Sooners have had many ups and downs this year, however there has been one constant for the team and that is the defense.
The Sooners’ defense has really played well for the entire season, even in their three losses this year. On Saturday, the Sooners will face Kansas State and with the news of quarterback Sam Bradford being done for the rest of the season due to injury, the Sooners defense will have to continue its strong play.
Kansas State has changed quite a bit from a year ago. The Wildcats lost their star quarterback Josh Freeman to the NFL and have changed their style of play from a passing game to more of a running oriented game, and it is a good one at that.
“They are a physical team, a lot of downhill and two back sets,” said defensive coordinator Brent Venables. “They don’t make a lot of mistakes, they’re tied for lead in turnover margin.”
The key for the Sooners is going to be stopping the running game of junior running back Daniel Thomas. Thomas is having a great year. He has already rushed for 814 yards and is averaging just under five yards per carry. In every game the Wildcats have won this year Thomas has rushed for at least 90 yards. If the Sooners can contain Thomas they will have a good chance of winning the game.
“I didn’t know [Thomas] was that good, you wouldn’t expect that from K-State,” said defensive linemen Gerald McCoy. “They run the ball pretty well, and they play very well up front. They are very physical.”
The Sooners front four, which has been the highest point of the defense this year, will have to be able to get into the backfield and bring down the running game early.
If the Sooners do allow Thomas and the Wildcats to establish the run game the Sooners will face the same situation they did when they played Miami. The Sooners cannot allow the Wildcats to run the ball on first and second down and set up manageable third down situation. If they do it will be very hard for the defense to get off the field.
“We have to get in our run-fense and be able to tackle in space,” said defensive back Dominique Franks. “There are going to have good schemes for us but we just have to be patient and we will be okay.”
The Sooners defense has seemed to find its stride; they continue to improve every week. The Sooners will have to continue to improve this Saturday if they want to make it their second straight victory against Big 12 North teams.