FORT WORTH, TX — Brent Venables is renowned for his attention to detail, but his Oklahoma defense can’t do the little things right.
The No. 18-ranked Sooners were run off the field for the second time in as many weeks.
Seven days ago, the Kansas State Wildcats ran over the OU defense, and on Saturday the TCU Horned Frogs (4-0) left Oklahoma in its dust en route to a 55-24 rout at Amon G. Carter Stadium.
Venables and defensive coordinator Ted Roof worked all last week to fix the defensive woes, but the Sooners started to bust at the seams right from the start.
Following a Marvin Mims fumble, the Horned Frogs only needed four plays to march 46 yards in 78 seconds to find the end zone.
The defense again appeared to play on the back foot, and the Horned Frogs were merciless in making the Sooners pay.
Kansas State methodically moved the ball down the field, beating OU on play after play. But TCU killed Oklahoma with chunk play after chunk play, taking advantage of all the mental errors the Sooners committed.
“It’s trusting your eyes and not second guessing what you’re seeing,” Venables said after the game. “… the very first play of the game that’s exactly what we can’t do. They got a little run RPO on the perimeter, one man, one blocker little screen. We’ve got a corner who’s got to set the edge and stay outside the block.
“… You can’t play good defense. To me, those are layup plays. Your help’s inside, stay outside, set the edge, set it right now when your key tells you to and right now we’re very inconsistent at doing that. And that’s the first play on defense today and in an area that that’s how their offense gets you on their heels.”
Coming over to the sideline and hitting the white board didn’t seem to help either, as the mental miscues mounted.
A coverage bust resulted in a 73-yard touchdown pass from TCU quarterback Max Duggan to Taye Barber to put the Horned Frogs up 13-3.
OU cornerback Kani Walker then failed to set the edge again, allowing Duggan to dart 67 yards down the sideline and extend the lead to 20-3.
Another bust afforded Duggan an easy pitch-and-catch to Gunnar Henderson, this time connecting for a 62-yard strike to give TCU a 41-17 lead just before halftime.
“It's a combination of a lot of things,” Roof said about the busted plays. “I own a piece of it. It's just really disappointing. That's what happened.
“… "There was a mistake. I'm not into the blame game, but there was a mistake. Anytime somebody's that wide open, there was a mistake. There was a bust and that's what happened. We've gotta get it fixed."
TCU racked up 668 yards of total offense, but 342 of those yards came on six plays.
The defense has played on its heels for eight straight quarters, but linebacker David Ugwoegbu said the unit needs to rely on their work in practice to keep from overthinking things on the field.
“Just getting the call and executing. That’s about it,” he said. “Other people react to different things in different ways. Some guys might be in their heads. I wouldn’t know what the answer is to that.”
TCU’s 55 points was the largest total the Oklahoma defense had given up since LSU’s 63-28 domination of the Sooners in the Peach Bowl during the 2019 College Football Playoff.
“We were bad, but we're not that bad. But it happened,” Venables said. “… it avalanched on us today and we did a poor job of getting out of it.”
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