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OU football: Alex Grinch, Sooners defense to focus on creating more tackles for loss

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OU defensive coordinator Alex Grinch calls plays during the game against Texas Tech Sept. 28.

No. 6 Oklahoma (4-0, 1-0 Big 12) had its most complete defensive performance of the year Saturday in a 55-16 win over Texas Tech (2-2, 0-1 Big 12).

The defense held the Red Raiders to just 122 yards passing and only gave up one touchdown on the afternoon. But perhaps the most impressive stat from the game was that Oklahoma only allowed one third-down conversion on 14 attempts. 

All around, it was an impressive game, but defensive coordinator Alex Grinch still sees areas of improvement for his team.

In his first year in Norman, Grinch has had the tall task of rectifying a defense that has held Oklahoma back from reaching the national championship two years in a row, and it is clear that he is on the right track.

The defense is playing with a higher level of energy, forcing more takeaways and causing more punts. Despite this, Grinch would like to see more Sooners making plays in the backfield.

"We left that game with five (tackles for loss), and I'm not okay with that, and I don't think they're okay with that." Grinch said. "We need to make more plays in the offensive backfield. We find ourselves back there more than five times per game, we need to make those plays."

Through four games, the Sooners have gotten five tackles for loss, with the team high being eight in the Houston and South Dakota games. 

Grinch has been upfront with statistical goals he's set for his team this season, as he has said that it is 'inexcusable' to not force at least two turnovers per game. Although he doesn't have an exact figure for how many tackles for loss he'd like to see, he knows that the Sooners haven't reached it yet.

"We don't set a number, but you'd like to be in the double digits in terms of our style of play." Grinch said. "It's the same thing with sacks, you'd like to be somewhere in the three or four range, but if it's a game with not a lot of drop backs, then that can impact those numbers." 

Redshirt senior defensive tackle Neville Gallimore is one of Oklahoma's captains, and he has also been outspoken about not being satisfied with the defense's improvements. 

Gallimore had one of the highlights of Saturday's win, by chasing down Texas Tech quarterback Jett Duffey and forcing a fumble that was recovered by sophomore linebacker DeShaun White.

"We're taking strides, but there's another level that we have to hit," Gallimore said. "There's a standard that we have for ourselves as a defense. We take pride as a group to know that we have to hit that (standard)."

Grinch, Gallimore and the Sooners will travel to Lawrence, Kansas to take on the Jayhawks (2-3, 0-2 Big 12) at 11 a.m. on Saturday.

Correction: date of Jayhawks' game added to story 

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