Defense stands out for Sooners

OU linebacker Eric Striker

Defense had the final impression for the 2013 season and now has the first one for the 2014 campaign for OU.

NORMAN, Okla. – Offense is always going to grab the attention and makes all the highlights. But if you follow football at all, it's defense that wins championships.

If that adage is taken literally, the 2014 edition of the Sooners should be in pretty good shape. It was the defense that carried the day during the Red-White spring game Saturday afternoon in front of a record 43,500 fans at OU in White's 28-13 victory against Red.

Trevor Knight was coming off winning the MVP in the Allstate Sugar Bowl, but the tone was set in the first possession.

Pass deflected by Quentin Hayes.

Pass deflected by Jordan Evans.

Pass deflected by Dominique Alexander.

This isn't New Orleans anymore. Knight was 5-of-14 for 53 yards with an interception.

"I thought it was good with the ones," defensive coordinator Mike Stoops said. "We did a lot of good things. I think this is the most complete defense we've had since we've been here."

It wasn't a showcase for Knight by any means as the first-team defense had its way with the offense. OU coach Bob Stoops didn't read too much into it as the defense knew what plays the offense was running.

Knight said it was all about execution and this afternoon it was the defense. Picking up right where he left off, it was another big day for Eric Striker.

Not allowed to touch quarterbacks, Striker could have leveled Knight on back-to-back plays to start the second half.

"Strike is one of those guys that you're glad he's on your side," Knight said. "He showed it last year all year long. Force to be reckoned with."

It wasn't all good for the defense. Linebacker Geneo Grissom, playing in his new position, was cut blocked by sophomore running back Keith Ford, and Stoops said Grissom has suffered a sprained MCL. The good news is it won't require surgery.

The other questionable issue is with linebacker Frank Shannon. After missing the open practice Thursday, Shannon also wasn't on the field Saturday. Stoops said he is working through personal issues.

With Shannon out, it was a chance for Evans to state his case. About 15 pounds bigger than last year, Evans made his imprint with a couple of monster hits.

"I just wanted to show what I can do," Evans said. "This is my role, and I feel like I've made a lot more strides in playing linebacker."

Jordan Wade, Ogbonnia Okoronkwo and Aaron Franklin all registered interceptions during the game. OU had seven pass breakups.

With the spring game in the books, the door is closed on OU's spring practice. Bob Stoops said no questions were answered, but he was very pleased with the constant improvement shown throughout the last month.

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