Sooner de­fense bends, doesn’t break in the end

The Oklahoman (Sunday) - - SOONER POSTGAME - Ryan Aber

LUB­BOCK, Texas — Alan Bow­man dou­bled over in pain and quickly threw away his hel­met.

A few mo­ments later he was head­ing up the ramp at Jones AT&T Sta­dium, his game fin­ished af­ter he re-ag­gra­vated the par­tially col­lapsed lung he ini­tially suf­fered in late Septem­ber against West Vir­ginia.

The in­jury proved to be the open­ing Ok­la­homa’s de­fense needed. With Jett Duf­fey in­stead quar­ter­back­ing Texas Tech, the sec­ond half turned more nor­mal foot­ball and less video-game of­fense, as the Soon­ers held the Red Raiders to 15 sec­ond-half points as No. 7 OU es­caped with a 51-46 win.

And when Ok­la­homa needed a big de­fen­sive play most — af­ter Texas Tech scored with 6:54 re­main­ing to pull within two — the Soon­ers came through, with Robert Barnes pick­ing off

Duf­fey’s con­ver­sion pass and re­turn­ing it about 105 yards for two points the other way to give OU a bit of breath­ing room.

Later, Barnes swat­ted away an­other Duf­fey two-point con­ver­sion pass.

Even con­sid­er­ing Duf­fey’s per­for­mance, there were some en­cour­ag­ing signs for the de­fense in the sec­ond half. Ok­la­homa got to Duf­fey twice for sacks, both by de­fen­sive line­men — Amani Bled­soe and Neville Gal­limore.

But in the first half, there was plenty cause for con­cern from a de­fense that had looked re­born in the first two games with Ruf­fin McNeill as de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor but who had yet to face a ca­pa­ble of­fense since Mike Stoops’ fir­ing nearly a month ago.

Ok­la­homa was mostly con­tent to give Bow­man time to work with a three-man rush and hope to cover on the back end of the de­fense.

But in­stead, Texas Tech re­ceivers found plenty of open room and Bow­man con­sis­tently picked apart the Soon­ers’ sec­ondary.

On top of that, the tack­ling is­sues which had plagued Ok­la­homa for the first part of the sea­son showed up once more, in­clud­ing on Da’Leon Ward’s 45-yard touch­down in the sec­ond quar­ter that put the Red Raiders up 24-14 when Jor­dan Parker was in­de­ci­sive on mov­ing for the tackle and in­stead stum­bled as Ward raced to the end zone.

The Soon­ers were hurt­ing for depth in the sec­ondary, with starters Bookie Radley-Hiles and Kahlil Haughton out with in­juries, forc­ing into ac­tion lit­tle-used play­ers like Parker.

Par­nell Mot­ley, the ob­ject of much con­ster­na­tion among Soon­ers fans, was called for a pass in­ter­fer­ence call in the end zone, negat­ing an in­ter­cep­tion.

Ok­la­homa also once again didn’t force a fum­ble.

The Soon­ers’ de­fense has yet to re­cover a fum­ble this sea­son.

Both of Ok­la­homa’s fum­ble re­cov­er­ies this year have come on spe­cial teams.

Ok­la­homa faces a mid­dle-of-the-pack as far as Big 12 of­fenses next week in Bed­lam, then Kansas’ of­fense fig­ures to of­fer lit­tle re­sis­tance a week later.

But then West Vir­ginia looms and the Moun­taineers have one of the best quar­ter­backs in col­lege foot­ball in Will Grier, who helped West Vir­ginia put up 578 yards of to­tal of­fense against Texas on Satur­day.

Raber@ ok­la­homan.com

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