NORMAN (AP) — Reggie Smith has reason to be annoyed.

Not just because he was on the field when Oregon was wrongly awarded an onside kick that led to its winning score against Oklahoma last week. Or because the potential game-winning field goal that he set up with a 55-yard kick return ended up getting blocked.

“On defense, we’re really upset because we know we’re a lot better than what we showed in the past two weeks,” said Smith, a starting cornerback for the 17th-ranked Sooners.

In its controversial 34-33 loss to Oregon last week, Oklahoma gave up more than 500 yards of total offense for the first time since the Orange Bowl in January 2005 and only the seventh time in coach Bob Stoops’ tenure at Oklahoma.

Heading into today’s game against Middle Tennessee (2-1), the Sooners (2-1) find themselves in unfamiliar territory at the bottom of the Big 12 in rushing yards allowed and total defense.

The defense has been a surprising disappointment for the Sooners, who returned a core of starters including leading-tackler Rufus Alexander, a pair of defensive ends who combined for 17 sacks last season and Smith — a sophomore whose skills have so impressed coaches that he’s also returning kicks and playing occasionally on offense.

The two biggest losses were a pair of third-round NFL draft picks: linebacker Clint Ingram, who led Oklahoma with five interceptions last season, and disruptive defensive tackle Dusty Dvoracek.

“I still think there’s a lot of these players, the biggest majority of them, that played well through last year — through a good part of last year — that I believe have a chance to this year,” Stoops said. “But we’ve got to get it out of them.”

The Sooners are tied with Texas Tech for the fewest sacks in the Big 12, but Stoops said even that relates back to the sub-par run defense.

“To me, it begins with the run game. We haven’t been as solid on the run game as we’re used to being,” Stoops said. “When you’re not solid there, it’s harder to get that pressure. That’s where it begins.”

There should be plenty of motivation this week. The defense was handed a 33-20 lead with 3:12 to play last week and Oregon got two quick scores to claim the win.

“It definitely hurts,” defensive end Calvin Thibodeaux said. “We hate the position we put ourselves in. ... On the defensive side, we feel that we could have never allowed the onside kick to have happened. We kind of feel like we put ourselves in that position.”

The Sooners will start a third different cornerback opposite Smith today against Middle Tennessee. D.J. Wolfe started the first two games, Lendy Holmes started last week and it will be Marcus Walker’s turn this week. Keenan Clayton and Jason Carter are also continuing their competition at strong safety.

“I think we’re just trying to find the combination,” Smith said. “We’ve been moving people around, switching them, inserting them here and there. We’re just trying to find the right personnel and people that work together the best.”

“I know we have the people to do it,” he added. “It’s just getting out there and doing it.”

The loss to Oregon may have blown Middle Tennessee’s cover. Instead of sneaking in between a tough road game at Oregon and a rivalry game against Texas in two weeks, the Blue Raiders now get an angry Sooners team that feels it had a win taken away.

“I think it is tough going there whenever,” Middle Tennessee coach Rick Stockstill said. “Everybody is talking about what happened at (Oregon) but I know they will be ready to play and we will get a great effort. They have aspirations of a national championship. They can’t afford another loss.”

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