3 Defensive Keys to an Oklahoma Sooners victory over Texas Tech

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Nothing would make Sooners fans happier than seeing No. 4 Oklahoma pounce on a Texas Tech football team that just fired its head football coach and win this game convincingly.

In order for that to be the case, OU needs this to be the week that its defense plays complementary football. Without further ado, let’s take a peek at some of the defensive keys to victory for Oklahoma against Texas Tech.

Prepare for multiple quarterbacks

Texas Tech offensive coordinator Sonny Cumbie has taken over this week as the Red Raiders’ interim head coach for Matt Wells who was relieved of his duties in Lubbock.

Cumbie was asked this week if senior Henry Columbi will remain his team’s starting quarterback against the Sooners or if freshman Donovan Smith would get the nod.

“You know, Henry Columbi has really played well and Henry will start this game. Donovan’s done a very nice job in the packages that we’ve prepared for him and he’s answered the bell with his packages and his plays and has done a good job and has gotten better. Henry, bottom line is I didn’t coach him very well last week and I could’ve coached him better in the second half and put him in position in the second half to play better than what he did. But, absolutely Henry will start for us,” Cumbie said.

Columbi is completing 64 percent of his passes and has thrown for 1,214 passing yards with four touchdowns against four interceptions on the season. It was a disaster to end last week against Kansas State for Columbi and the Tech offense, though.

The Red Raiders were held to just 102 yards of total offense and didn’t convert a third-down try in the second half against the Wildcats. If the offense is sluggish early, the leash probably won’t be long and Smith will get a look.

Up Next: Slow the Run, Slow the Raiders

Be better against the run

Oklahoma has been stingy with its run defense all season long. They rank 20th nationally in rush defense, surrendering 108.8 rushing yards per game and 3.35 per carry.

Texas Tech junior running back SaRodorick Thompson has been the Red Raiders’ leading rusher in each of Tech’s past five games, but he’s only eclipsed the century mark once in that stretch.

OU wasn’t flat-out awful against Kansas in run defense, but it was still disappointing that freshman KU running back Devin Neal was able to record his second-highest rushing total of the season with 100 yards on the ground versus the Sooners.

“I think it kind of became the theme, specifically in that first half, the inability to get stops in the run game. That just eats away at some yardage and creates some situations in second and medium, second and short. Really disappointed in not stopping the run there, specifically early, although I’m not sure we got a whole lot better as the day went,” Oklahoma defensive coordinator Alex Grinch said after the win against Kansas.

For a Texas Tech offense that comes limping in after a dismal second half versus K-State, one of the keys defensively for Oklahoma is to position itself in better downs and distances by locking down the Red Raiders’ run game.

Up Next: Can Perrion bounce back?

Perrion delivers pressure

From the looks of it, the Sooners will be getting an important reinforcement back along the defensive line in redshirt sophomore Jalen Redmond. The Midwest City product was dressed out last week in Lawrence but still hasn’t played since the Nebraska game.

“He was close to being ready last week but not quite there. Had him there in kind of an emergency scenario, but we do anticipate having him available this week,” Oklahoma head football coach Lincoln Riley said.

The Sooners’ defense was markedly better at pressuring opposing quarterbacks with Redmond in the fold during their first three games of the season.

Perhaps Redmond’s return will help senior nose guard Perrion Winfrey get loose and deliver some much-needed pressure on whichever signal-caller is back there for Texas Tech.

It’s been a quiet couple of weeks for Winfrey since he registered multiple tackles for loss in the Texas game. Against TCU and Kansas, the Maywood, Ill., native recorded just three tackles combined with 0.5 tackles for loss and zero sacks.

Simply put, OU needs more production from one of its best defensive players starting this week against Texas Tech.

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Tale of the Tape: How do the Oklahoma Sooners and Texas Tech Red Raiders stack up statistically?