COLUMN: OU football team turns up heat in second quarters
The Oklahoma offense may not look like the “score-at-will” type of team just after the opening kickoff, but OU has outscored every opponent from Tulsa to Texas by a whopping 96-17 in the second quarter alone.
The Sooner defense also has only allowed just a touchdown and field goal in the same quarter.
The only outlier is OU special teams allowed Texas to return a kickoff for a touchdown in the second quarter on Saturday.
Be it solid preparation throughout the week or any other outside force that helps systematize a rock-solid defense to complement a worthy scoring machine, the Sooner defense has shown it has what it takes to be one of the best teams of the Bob Stoops era.
“We’ve got good chemistry as a unit,” defensive coordinator Brent Venables said. “They like football, they like to practice and they like each other.”
During the season opener against Tulsa, the OU defense forced an interception, fumble and a punt before giving up the Golden Hurricane touchdown with just under three minutes left to go in the first half.
The only touchdown allowed by the OU defense in the second quarter came against the Golden Hurricane, when Bryan Burnham broke coverage for a 56-yard TD.
Against Ball State, the Sooner defense didn’t allow a single third-down conversion while limiting the Cardinals to a field goal after a 61-yard gain on 15 plays.
Those points were the last time Ball State scored in route to a Sooner 62-6 blowout victory.
And the Sooners continued the second-quarter romp against the Longhorns last Saturday.
At the end of the first quarter, OU led by a slim 6-3 margin, but Stoops said he wasn’t worried.
“We were working the ball well (offensively) but unfortunately had to settle for field goals,” Stoops said. “I had a good feeling we were executing well and eventually we would put ourselves in position to make big plays.”
Looking back now, big plays don’t really begin to give the full picture of just how historically dominant the Sooner defense would eventually become.
After junior quarterback Landry Jones connected with sophomore wide receiver Kenny Stills in the back of the end zone for the first OU touchdown of the game, the OU defense only added to the dual menace of the Sooners’ game plan by turning two more interceptions into points during the second quarter.
Sophomore Tony Jefferson proved why offense coordinators shouldn’t overlook him, pulling in an interception off Texas freshman quarterback David Ash that eventually turned into a Jones-to-Ryan Broyles touchdown.
And the Sooner domination on both sides of the ball only continued to become more stifling as the quarter pressed on.
A couple of series later, junior cornerback Demontre Hurst’s 55-yard interception return was nothing short of impressive.
“I thought the guys did an excellent job of executing the blitzes and then forcing turnovers and making the plays,” Stoops said.
Hurst’s TD was the 40th defensive touchdown under Stoops in a contest in which the defense set a school record by tacking on two more defensive scores before the end of the game.
The defense continued to rewrite the OU record books, and each record showed the caliber of defense this team possesses.
“(Defensive touchdowns) make a huge difference in the game and gasses everybody up while deflating this other team,” Stoops said. “The defense is watching the other team score and they aren’t even on the field.”
If future opponents want a way to disrupt this Sooner team, the deciding factor will be found in the second quarter.
If teams limit OU’s passing game, protect the ball on offense and don’t let up on pressure after holding the Sooners to a mediocre first quarter performance, the opposition could be looking at a much different scoreboard going into halftime.
But all of those tasks are easier said than done against the Sooners, who have solidified their argument for being one of the top teams in the country on both sides of the ball against Texas.
Venables knows OU can strengthen its case even more by continuing the fast tempo going into Saturday’s game with Kansas.
“The test of time is the true testament,” Venables said. “You can’t do it one week and not the next. We’ve got some talented guys, and we’ll see if over the course of the season we can continue to get better both mentally and physically.”
AT A GLANCE: Sooners in the second quarter
vs. Tulsa: 20-7*
vs. Florida State: 6-0
vs. Missouri: 14-0*
vs. Ball State: 28-3*
vs. Texas: 28-7*
*Second quarter was highest-scoring quarter for OU in the game
Tobi Neidy is a Multidisciplinary studies senior. You can follow her on Twitter at @TobiAnn.