We're just going to talk about the defense as a whole today, as the group played like one giant, cohesive unit Saturday night.
The defensive line controlled the line of scrimmage, the linebackers played -terrific- positional defense all game long, and the secondary ended a series of forgettable performances with a smothering, dominant effort.
Individually, several players need to be praised. First, let's praise Michael Griffin for his outstanding game. Apparently, he reads the internet boards, and I hope he's as pleased with the praise as he was disappointed by the negative reviews. He was simply outstanding last night, and it was his best overall game of the season. He was a terror around the line, as usual, but he was also in position on every pass play where he was supposed to be there in support. His interception was one such play, and the catch itself would have been the defensive highlight of the game if not for...
Aaron Ross, who made another statement about his Thorpe Award worthiness with a deflection and catch for an interception that had me yelping.
It was also terrific to see Brian Robison have a big bounceback game. After an ankle injury kept him uncharacteristically quiet for two straight games, Robison exploded last night with a dominant performance from the end. He finished with four tackles, two of which were quarterback sacks. Bobby Reid never had a chance last night, and Robison and the defensive line were a big reason why.
Gene Chizik deserves some big time praise for the defensive game plan last night. My oh my did we dominate the Cowpokes. Chizik must have seen something in the film that led him to believe that Reid was not an accurate passer when he was moving about too much. With that in mind, Chizik kept pressure in the middle of the line of scrimmage all night long, while keeping a solid contingency available for pass coverage. The results were dazzling - Texas' best defensive effort of the season.
I honestly don't think there's anything you can legitimately gripe about last night's defensive performance. There wasn't a single big play opportunity for Oklahoma State, and Chizik all but forced the Cowboys to try to beat Texas with a dominant running game. And Texas' line and linebackers assured that wouldn't happen.
Without the special teams touchdown, Oklahoma State would have been limited to a meager three points. They finished with 203 total yards and never sustained any momentum. The entire unit, top to bottom, gets a Grade: A