By John Shinn
CNHI News Service
NORMAN — Most of the positions have changed, but Oklahoma’s secondary shares a common experience. All of them — cornerbacks Demontre Hurst and Aaron Colvin, safeties Tony Jefferson and Javon Harris and nickelback Gabe Lynn — were on the field when the Sooners faced Texas Tech last season.
The 41-38 loss was the kind of bonding experience a secondary doesn’t want to experience. OU gave up 452 passing yards in a loss that ended a 39-game home winning streak that dated back to 2005.
“Just losing in general and losing at home, being part of the team that broke that streak we had going at home messed with me,” Jefferson said. “Just losing isn’t good at all.”
In a sense, the Sooner secondary never recovered from that night. They finished the 2011 regular season by giving up 485 passing yards in a loss to Baylor that ended any chance for OU to play for a national championship.
There was a sense that any team truly accomplished at throwing the ball was capable of posting big numbers against the Sooners.
OU (2-1, 0-1 Big 12) will find out if anything has changed when it faces the Red Raiders (4-0, 1-0) at 2:30 p.m. Saturday at Jones AT&T Stadium in Lubbock.
This game isn’t about revenge. That word has become removed from OU’s vocabulary.
“We know what happened last year, but there’s nothing we can do about that,” Harris said.
Changes have occurred since the last meeting. All five players in OU’s five-defensive-back package are the same. However, only Hurst is still playing at the same spot.
Jefferson has moved from the nickel spot to free safety. Harris has shifted from free safety to strong safety. Colvin has moved from strong safety to cornerback. Lynn, who was forced into starting duty at cornerback after regular starter Jamell Fleming suffered a knee injury last season, is now playing the nickel spot.
What they all seek against Texas Tech this time around is redemption. The Red Raiders employ the typical spread offense that dominates the Big 12. If a secondary can’t match up with it, its hard to imagine it lining up and stopping or slowing the likes of West Virginia or Oklahoma State down the road.
Learning from last season’s mistakes was something the OU’s secondary vowed to do.
“I think you can see from the past, you can learn from the past and it doesn’t mean you’re going to get the same results from one year to another,” defensive coordinator Mike Stoops said. “Each year is drastically different. You can take away some schematics in what you did good and what you did wrong, but it doesn’t take long to turn on the film and we just got beat individually and as a defense.”
The Sooners cannot afford for it to happen again Saturday. After a stunning home-field loss to Kansas State Sept. 22, the Texas Tech game is what stands between getting back on track or the season drifting away.
“I think every game from now on is a must win. I think every game going into the rest of the season is a must-win. You always want to win,” Jefferson said. “This game has a little baggage on it. We know what they did to us last year at home. We know what we’re getting ourselves into.”