OU defense struggles in loss

NORMAN, Okla. -- Grading the Sooners' 41-38 loss to Texas Tech:

Landry Jones: C-

Jones finished with great numbers – 421 yards and five touchdowns – and did everything he could in the fourth quarter to give the Sooners a chance for a miraculous rally. But, as Bob Stoops put it, Jones "wasn't very accurate," especially as OU fell behind big the first three quarters.

Running back committee: B

Roy Finch started off the game with a spectacular 55-yard run to set up OU's only score of the fist half. The rest of the game, Finch and Brennan Clay combined to rush for just 71 yards, but Finch added 43 yards on five catches, including a couple of nifty grabs.

Ryan Broyles and Kenny Stills: B+

It's hard to pin this loss on Broyles and Stills, who totaled 15 receptions and 219 yards receiving. Stills kept the Sooners from getting blown out with his 58-yard touchdown catch in the third quarter, which ignited OU's rally attempt. But, the two had a hard time getting open and were often blanketed by Tech's aggressive secondary.

Other receivers: D+

Jaz Reynolds dropped four passes, although he did haul in a 55-yard touchdown late in the fourth quarter to pull OU to within 10 points. Tight end James Hanna also had a late touchdown, but Trey Franks and Dejuan Miller were non-factors.

Offensive line: B

It might have seemed as though Jones faced a ton of pressure, but in reality, Tech failed to sack him and only hurried him once. In other words, pass protection was not OU's big problem. But the running game never got rolling, and the line never really imposed its will.

Frank Alexander and Ronnell Lewis: B+

The ends were the best part of a porous defense. Alexander had two tackles for loss and a sack. Lewis finished with eight tackles, including 2 ½ for loss, and a sack. Lewis made a key tackle on fourth down at the OU 6 to give the Sooners back the ball.

Other defensive linemen: C-

Jamarkus McFarland made Lewis' fourth-down stop happen by slicing through the Tech line. Stacy McGee was solid, too. But David King and R.J. Washington failed to get pressure on the quarterback.

Travis Lewis and Corey Nelson: D

Lewis had 11 tackles, but was a step slow to the point of attack. Nelson got sealed off on one of the Tech slip-screen touchdowns. All too often, Tech backs Aaron Crawford and DeAndre Washington, who combined for 146 yards rushing, got past the second level for big gains.

Defensive backfield: F

So much for the sharks. Tech QB Seth Doege gashed the Sooners for 441 yards and four touchdowns without committing a pick. The Sooners were forced to bench cornerback Gabe Lynn, who in place of the injured Jamell Fleming got beat multiple times downfield. Cornerback Demontre Hurst didn't fare much better, surrendering Tech's final touchdown on a fade route, two plays after giving up a 30-yard fade to set up the touchdown.

Special teams: D

It was only a matter of time before special teams cost the Sooners in a game like this. Michael Hunnicutt missed a 39-yard-field goal in the first half and a 28-yarder off the right upright with 2:52 left in the game. OU had a couple of decent returns, but so did Tech. The difference was Red Raiders placekicker Donny Carona, who made both of his field goal attempts.

Jake Trotter covers University of Oklahoma football for SoonerNation. He can be reached at trotterjake@gmail.com. and look for answers every Friday.

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