NORMAN- Notching their first conference win against the Texas Longhorns, the Oklahoma defense was stifling for three and a half quarters in the Cotton Bowl.
Totaling six sacks and forcing a season high three turnovers, the Sooners defense took a step forward.
Now with an off week to work on themselves, defensive coordinator Alex Grinch and outside linebackers Nik Bonitto and Jon-Michael Terry spoke to the media on Wednesday. The trio stressed the need for consistency as well as finding the drive within themselves to dig deep and finish games.
Keying in on closing out games:
As each half wore on inside the Cotton Bowl, the Oklahoma defense eventually succumbed to fatigue and an explosive Texas offense.
The Sooners defense only surrendered points in the second quarter, fourth quarter and overtime.
While the first half points were allowed on the back of turnovers by the Oklahoma offense, the defense finally relented in the fourth quarter to two touchdown drives led by Longhorns quarterback Sam Ehlinger.
Bonitto said the performance showed just how good this defense is and what kind of unit they can be if they can maintain their high level of play for all four quarters.
“I think it was huge. It can show us what we can do when we do what we’re supposed to do and when we do our job and finish plays,” Bonitto said. “Now we just got to do that and finish the whole way through.”
The defense has shown a lot of stretches of good play, but it has to prove it can continue that play into the fourth quarter, Grinch said.
“Our inability to finish this past weekend bought four more overtimes,” Grinch said. “Now on the same token, that same group then finished and played four overtimes and grinded one out, and there’s a lot to that.”
If the defense can continue to improve and achieve consistency, Bonitto said he loves the potential of his unit.
“Sky’s the limit for this defense,” he said. “I can really see it.”
Perrion Winfrey continues to impress:
The Iowa Western Community College transfer continues to impress at the heart of the Oklahoma defense.
Winfrey logged two tackles, including half a sack, against Texas as well as blocking Cameron Dicker’s field goal attempt in the third overtime.
Replacing Neville Gallimore, Winfrey has stepped up to help anchor the center of Oklahoma’s defensive line, a unit ranked number 32 nationally in yards per rush through four games.
“He’s a guy who came in here and he just put his nose to the grindstone and worked every day,” Terry said of his teammate. “He’s been a great addition to this team and we’re all glad to have him around.”
As well as Winfrey has played thus far, Grinch believes he is just scratching the surface of the player he can be for the Sooners.
“This last weekend you saw a guy that can affect the football game and we expect him to,” Grinch said. “That’s something that certainly we’re excited about.”
Winfrey has paired with fellow junior college transfer Josh Ellison to give a boost to the defensive line, an area which needed to add the duo of transfers for immediate depth.
“They continue to improve and [we’ve] been impressed with them,” Grinch said. “We haven’t seen their best yet.”
The Sooners are off this weekend before they get back into the swing of conference play, traveling to TCU next Saturday.
Kickoff with the Horned Frogs is scheduled for 11 a.m. and the game will be broadcast on ABC.
107.7 The Franchise, the Flagship Station for Oklahoma Football, will have full pre and post game coverage, as well as broadcast the radio call for the game.