OU gives UF bulletin-board fodder
Published: Monday, January 5, 2009 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, January 5, 2009 at 1:05 a.m.
FORT LAUDERDALE — It may have been a case of a player letting out some pent-up frustration.
Or perhaps, Oklahoma cornerback Dominique Franks was speaking not just for his team's overshadowed defense, but the defenses of an entire conference as well.
Franks provided the first bulletin board material of the week when he took a few jabs at Florida quarterback Tim Tebow, saying that he felt that Tebow wasn't as good as the Big 12 Conference's big three quarterbacks — Oklahoma's Sam Bradford, Texas's Colt McCoy and Texas Tech's Graham Harrell.
"I think our quarterbacks are better," Franks said. "Just the way they conduct themselves and how they play on the field. I just think playing against those guys, it's a lot harder to prepare for those guys than it is for Tebow."
Apparently, Franks was miffed at a comment Tebow made on television saying that he was looking forward to playing a Big 12 defense. Tebow, who won the Heisman Trophy last season, finished third in Heisman balloting behind Bradford and McCoy this season.
"Him saying that we wanted to face a Big 12 defense, it's been great listening to all of the comments they are making," Franks said. "So January 8th, we're going to see.
"Everyone says our defense is suspect in the back end. So hopefully, he'll throw me the ball a couple of times and I'll get my hands on it."
Oklahoma's defense will have more than Tebow to worry about in Thursday's BCS title showdown with the Gators. The Sooners, who rank 99th in the nation in pass defense, will have to account for a spread offense that displays the talents of speedy playmakers like junior Percy Harvin and freshmen Chris Rainey and Jeff Demps.
While Oklahoma's offense has put together one of the most prolific scoring seasons in college football history, Oklahoma's defense has been steady if not spectacular. The Sooners have forced 32 turnovers this season, with 20 resulting in defensive touchdowns. Oklahoma's run defense, meanwhile, has given up 106 yards per game despite losing middle linebacker and top-returning tackler Ryan Reynolds to a season-ending knee injury in mid-October.
"Through the lumps that we've taken throughout the course of this year, we're still where we need to be, no matter what anyone's had to say," Oklahoma senior safety Nic Harris said. "We've had some major, major injuries during the course of this year and we still prevailed."
If there's a weakness, it's in the secondary, where Oklahoma's pass defense has allowed 253.1 yards per game. But Franks said the pass defense stats are somewhat misleading.
"To hear people say that we don't play defense, we played against Texas Tech which is probably the greatest offense, one of the best offenses in the country," Franks said. "We shut them down to 21 points. But that quarterback still threw for about 300 yards. So if you look at the stats, yeah you'll say that we don't play defense. But if you watch the game, you would see."
Franks acknowledged that Florida's team speed is probably better than any Big 12 team the Sooners have faced this season. But Oklahoma cornerback Lendy Holmes said he doesn't view Florida's speed as the deciding factor in the game.
"We're not too worried about how fast they are as long as we bring our technique and our discipline, play our style of defense, everything will be alright," Holmes said.
Oklahoma defensive coordinator Brent Venables wasn't thrilled about the timing of Frank's remarks, but understood where his starting cornerback was coming from.
"He's going to bat for the guys he's got a lot of respect for, guys that he's familiar with and I think that's it as much as anything," Venables said. "We're in a situation to answer the questions about how this guy compares and how the conference compares. It really doesn't matter. It's how you match up Thursday. It's not the SEC vs. the Big 12. It's not the defense vs. the offense. It's team against team."
Reader comments posted to this article may be published in our print edition. All rights reserved. This copyrighted material may not be re-published without permission. Links are encouraged.
Comments are currently unavailable on this article