If you assumed that Oklahoma’s hire of Brent Venables would automatically result in improved play on defense, you were wrong.
A week after getting torched by Adrian Martinez and Kansas State in a 41-34 home loss, the Sooners went on the road to TCU and turned in an even worse defensive performance. In an embarrassing 55-24 loss, Oklahoma allowed TCU to gain 668 yards and average a whopping 8.9 yards per play.
Along the way, TCU scored touchdowns of 73, 67, 62 and 69 yards en route to a complete rout in Fort Worth. The touchdowns of 73 and 62 yards were complete coverage busts where the TCU receiver ran completely free. The other two long touchdowns were runs where TCU players went untouched.
The Sooners simply had no answers for TCU’s offense. The Horned Frogs were up 27-10 by the end of the first quarter and that lead ballooned to 41-17 at halftime. By that point, TCU had accumulated a whopping 479 yards of offense and was averaging 10.2 yards per play.
Oklahoma’s offense tried to keep pace early on but a fumble and a turnover on downs put the Sooners behind. Dillon Gabriel, Oklahoma’s transfer quarterback from UCF, also overthrew a few receivers for potential big plays.
And then to make matters worse for OU, Gabriel was knocked out of the game in the second quarter after sustaining a dirty and late hit on a slide from TCU linebacker Jamoi Hodge.
With Gabriel sidelined and the defense unable to get a stop, there was virtually no chance for the Sooners to mount a comeback.
Oklahoma has work to do, TCU looks like Big 12 contender
With the loss, Oklahoma dropped to 3-2 on the year and is now 0-2 in Big 12 play to start the Venables era in Norman. Venables was one of the best defensive coordinators in the country during his time at Clemson, but he’s clearly got a lot to fix ahead of next week’s rivalry game against Texas.
The Sooners saw a significant exodus of players from the program after Lincoln Riley departed for USC and subsequently were forced to add plenty of players of their own from the transfer portal. As a result, there are a lot of new and inexperienced players getting significant action for Oklahoma this year.
Still, many expected Oklahoma to be better on defense with a coach of Venables' track record now running the show. With Riley as coach, OU frequently had explosive offenses but struggled on defense. The Sooners won four Big 12 titles in Riley's five seasons and made three trips to the College Football Playoff. All three of those trips resulted in semifinal losses.
OU fans seemed confident that Venables can be the guy to elevate the Sooners to the very top of the sport. If that can come to fruition, it clearly won't come quickly.
Through three weeks, the new-look Sooners were playing well — on both sides of the ball. The Sooners had convincing wins over UTEP, Kent State and Nebraska, but things changed drastically once the level of competition increased.
Last week, Kansas State marched into Norman and put up 509 yards of offense, including 275 on the ground. This week’s outing was far worse as TCU torched the Sooners. The Horned Frogs finished Saturday’s game with 307 through the air and 361 on the ground.
The Sooners didn’t have answers for anything TCU sent their way.
TCU is now off to a 4-0 start in its first season under Sonny Dykes. Dykes came over from SMU and brought his high-flying offense along with him.
The Big 12 is wide open, and the Horned Frogs look like a team with a chance to play a big role in that race.