NORMAN, Okla. — Oklahoma’s scorched secondary is about to get tested again.
The 13th-ranked Sooners (9-2, 6-2 Big 12) gave up more than 450 yards passing to each of the top 10 passing teams they’ve faced this season, and they lost both times.
Next up is a game Saturday night at No. 3 Oklahoma State (10-1, 7-1) and an offense that ranks second in the nation in passing behind quarterback Brandon Weeden and All-American receiver Justin Blackmon.
“We need to be able to cover people, to be in the zones we’re supposed to be in – whether we’re zone or (man-to-man),” coach Bob Stoops said Tuesday. “We have to have some discipline and responsibility in where we’re going.”
The Sooners were embarrassed both times they faced opponents with top passing attacks.
Texas Tech, which ranks seventh in the nation in passing, ate up Oklahoma’s defense with short screen passes and long runs after the catch. Baylor, which ranks fifth, went over the top repeatedly with Robert Griffin III connecting for deep passes to several receivers. The Bears ended up with 616 yards – the most ever allowed by the Sooners– and 485 came through the air.
“Anytime you let an offense do that to you, not only as a secondary but as a defense, that’s crushing. I do feel like it is a challenge,” safety Aaron Colvin said. “When you hear some of the things that people say to you, constantly hitting you up – ‘Blah, blah, blah, how did you play that bad?’ – you do take it as a challenge and you do want to prove people wrong.”
Sam Proctor started last week at free safety in place of Javon Harris, who was picked on several times against Baylor, and Oklahoma held Iowa State to a season-low 245 yards and forced four turnovers in a 26-6 victory.
The question is how relevant that performance is to this week’s game. Iowa State doesn’t pose the same passing threat as Oklahoma State, and the windiest game day in Norman since 1964 made it difficult for the Cyclones to pass regardless of the defense.
“Even though it’s a different offense, we still have to go out there and play like we did Saturday – causing turnovers, flying around, guys were having fun and smiling,” Colvin said. “So, we definitely have to play like that this week.”
Stoops said the secondary also needs the front seven to provide help by getting pressure on Weeden, who is far less likely than Griffin to take off and run.