The Power of Youth: 3 Sooners to watch on defense vs. Tulsa

Saturday’s matchup against Tulsa marks Oklahoma’s last nonconference game before they embark on their final Big 12 season. The matchup means a lot for the state of Oklahoma with the Sooners playing as the road team this week.

The Sooners enter the game with a lot of momentum on defense after shutting down what was a top-20 offense in the nation last season.

After what happened in 2022 for OU, this season’s efforts have felt particularly inspired. Oklahoma is looking to improve on last year and reshape the narrative about how the Sooners get down defensively.

After two games, the Sooners hold the nation’s sixth-best scoring defense, holding teams to just 5.5 points per game. They are eighth in third-down defense, with opponents converting just 22 percent of third-down attempts. It’s early, but through two games, it’s something to be proud of.

Tulsa may not be as talented as SMU, but their head coach is an offensive mind that Brent Venables knows all too well. The two coached under Bob Stoops for nearly a decade.

Oklahoma should be able to win this game fairly stress-free, but building their confidence and depth are also high on the list of priorities.

We believe these three players are names to watch come Saturday.

Up Next: 3 Sooners to watch on Defense

Peyton Bowen, Safety/Cheetah

After being one of the biggest Oklahoma recruiting wins in recent memory, Peyton Bown has delivered.

He picked off a pass in the OU spring game, and the hype picked up steam all summer.

In Saturday’s 28-11 win against SMU, he made two massive plays: blocking a punt and a critical fourth-down pass breakup.

This week, he may be thrust into a more extended role at Cheetah with Justin Harrington dealing with a dinged-up knee and Dasan McCullough working his way back from a week one injury.

Oklahoma could use the game to let Bowen play more, allowing the five-star safety the opportunity to get more experience while also giving Harrington time to rest.

Either way, it’ll be interesting to see Bowen continue to get comfortable in his role. He’s a budding star.

The more reps he gets, the better he will get.

Up Next: A Blur off the EDGE

R Mason Thomas, EDGE

R Mason Thomas debuted Saturday after missing the Sooners’ opening game against Arkansas State.

He graded out as one of the six best Sooners on defense that game. After rave reviews from his teammates and coaches, seeing how he elevates his game as a sophomore will be fun.

Thomas is a blur off the edge. He offers something none of the other Sooners EDGE defenders have with his speed and quickness.

As Oklahoma continues to build confidence and learn who the playmakers are on this defense, we’ll watch R Mason Thomas on Saturday and see if he can get some pressure on the quarterback.

Up Next: A trending linebacker

Kip Lewis, LB

As an excellent depth option, sophomore Kip Lewis is carving out a significant role in this defense.

He’s fast and instinctual, which showed on a critical third-down stop in the fourth quarter against SMU. Lewis bolted from the left side of the defense to take down SMU running back Jaylan Knighton for a negative play.

Head coach Brent Venables called him a “ball magnet.”

As the Sooners continue to build their depth, it will be interesting to see how Kip Lewis continues to perform after two really good games to start the season.

Will his snap count increase, and if so, how will he fare in those additional snaps?

So far, he’s been dynamite.

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Story originally appeared on Sooners Wire