Oklahoma Defense Shows Signs Of Promise Against UTEP - News9.com - Oklahoma City, OK - News, Weather, Video and Sports |

Oklahoma Defense Shows Signs Of Promise Against UTEP

Posted: Updated:
Defensive lineman David King (on ground) takes down Miners quarterback Nick Lamaison for a first quarter sack. (AP Photo) Defensive lineman David King (on ground) takes down Miners quarterback Nick Lamaison for a first quarter sack. (AP Photo)
NORMAN, Oklahoma -

The Oklahoma Sooners were less than stellar in their season-opening win over the UTEP Miners. However it wasn't all bad news for the Sooners, especially on the defensive side of the ball.

There was a lot of speculation coming into this season about how the defense would perform under new defensive coordinator Mike Stoops. While UTEP didn't pose the most significant threat offensively OU will face this year, the Sooners still performed at a high level Saturday, holding the Miners to 255 total yards and zero points.

"That was the most important thing, to come in and try to shut those guys down," cornerback Demontre Hurst said. "Overall defense we could get better, we could tune up some things and try to figure those things out this week. Just try to get better from here on."

The Sooners' defensive performance was not without problems, though. UTEP's starting running back, Nathan Jeffery, ran wild, rushing for 177 yards on 21 carries, an average of 8.4 yards per carry. Jeffery was also the one who scored the lone Miners touchdown on a blocked punt.

Head coach Bob Stoops said the reason Jeffery ran wild on several plays was simple breakdowns in alignment, and defensive ends not staying at home.

"Early on, a couple of occasions, our defensive end was just a little bit too far up field," Stoops said. "And we'd have it all taken care of along the line, he'd bend it back, and there's the crease. (Those are) all things that we feel pretty confident that we'll be able to handle and moving forward, they're things that we'll continue to work."

The Sooners really only had an issue in containing Jeffery. Take away Jeffery's 177 yards, and seven Miners combined to run for just 30 yards on 15 carries. The Miners were equally inept throwing the football, with starter Nick Lamaison and backup Carson Meger combining to go 7-of-26 and 48 yards.

The OU secondary was very active Saturday night, breaking up six passes, including three that should have been intercepted. Hurst attributed the secondary's activeness to embracing the new schemes Mike Stoops has brought with him.

"He has six DBs out there, it's a pass down, and one of those six DBs has got to come up with that big play to get us off the field," Hurst said. "It's a lot of pressure on us, and a lot of pressure on the other guys on the field also. It'll be a big thing for us to get everything taken care of next week."

Junior Tony Jefferson was back at his natural position of safety after bouncing around at linebacker, nickel back, and safety last season. Jefferson said it was good to get back to a familiar position.

"I felt more comfortable back there as a deep back," Jefferson said. "Just being able to communicate with my other guys. We're all on the same page. That's why I felt it was good for us. We didn't really give up any big plays back there. My guys really stepped up. We knew what our goals were and we met them."

Not only did the Sooners play well on the field, but they were also well prepared to stay on the field the whole night. While UTEP players were dropping like flies with cramping problems, OU didn't have a single player come off the field because of cramps. That didn't go unnoticed by Stoops.

"I think it says a lot," Stoops said. "Whether it's conditioning, we were in great shape, and also between our trainers and Coach Schmidt and us as coaches and the players being aware of it, of hydrating properly in the week leading up to the game, eating properly and being ready for that, to play and number of snaps and stay on the field."

The players echoed Stoops' praise, saying it had been a big focus all summer in preparing for the season.

"I don't know how hot it gets there [UTEP]," Jefferson said. "It was pretty humid there Saturday night. We were prepared for it. This whole summer we focused on being conditioned so we don't have to substitute as much and be like how they were, cramping up. Our guys did pretty good at that. Our d-line has to step up and grind it out."

If the OU offense doesn't get its act together soon, the Sooner defense will be counted on to keep OU close in games at the beginning of the season. Saturday night showed they have the ability to do that.

Live Radar

WARN Interactive

More Sports

  • OSU Cowboys

    Get all your OSU Cowboys information from sports highlights to the latest news & videos.

  • OKC Thunder

    Thunder Up! Get the latest sports news, game highlights, videos and updates on the team.

  • TU Golden Hurricane

    Follow the TU Golden Hurricane! Get sports scores, news and highlights.

  • ORU Golden Eagles

    ORU Golden Eagles fans can find the latest news on the team, scores and video here!

Powered by Frankly
News 9
7401 N. Kelley Ave.
Oklahoma City, OK 73111
News9.com is proud to provide Oklahomans with timely and relevant news and information, sharing the stories, pictures and loves of Oklahomans across our great state.
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2018 KWTV. All Rights Reserved. For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy, and Terms of Service, and Ad Choices.