October 28, 2012

HD: Sooner defense allows 403 yards in loss

Had you taken a straw poll outside of the stadium you would have most likely found a majority of Notre Dame fans supporting the idea that No. 5 would be a difference maker for the Irish.

And who could have argued that fact? Leader of a Irish defense-that has yet to allow a team to score more than 17 points- senior linebacker Manti Te'o is building a resume for a invite to New York City.

Unfortunately for Sooner fans it was the other Irish player that wears No. 5 in sophomore quarterback Everett Golson who made the difference Saturday night.

"Kind of a tough night. Most of the night [we] struggled in some areas. I thought [Everett] Golson made it difficult for us. He can do some things with the football. I thought he threw it effectively," said defensive coordinator Mike Stoops. "He's the guy that makes things a little bit uncomfortable for you. I thought he played an excellent football game"

Oklahoma found themselves uncomfortable more times than not. Even though the stat line would tell you the Sooners lost the time of possession battle by a mere five minutes. Anyone who watched would know otherwise.

The sophomore quarterback managed the game as if he was the fifth-year senior converting key third downs time and time again- especially in the third quarter- forcing the Sooner defense to stay on the field.

The ultimate dagger coming via the air as Golson connected with teammate Chris Brown on a 50-yard post setting up the eventual Irish game winning touchdown with 5:05 left in the game.

"I thought that Everett Golson led our team. He had obviously been challenged to continue to grow and it's been a process but I thought tonight was a big step up for our quarterback and our offense elevated itself against a great compettition on the road," said Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly.

For Stoops it's the disappointment of his defenses inability to get off the field in the second half. A trait that has been seen in both of Oklahoma's losses.

"Fourth quarter, in these two losses, we just didn't play good enough against football teams. Our execution wasn't good enough really in any capacity," said Stoops.

"That was disappointing that we didn't play well down the stretch. I didn't think our coverage was as good as it was all year. I thought we broke down in some technique errors, so just little things, but again, they just out-executed us and out-played us."

Just as frustrating for Stoops is the fact Notre Dame ran the ball 34 times for 215 yards. [db]Cierre Wood gave the Irish a 7-3 lead in the first quarter on a 62-yard touchdown run up the middle that seemingly set the tone for the rest of the night.

Negating a focal point of stopping the run first and foremost which had become a focus for the Sooner defense during the Sooners three game winning streak following the loss to Kansas State just over a month ago.

"Our run defense wasn't good enough today either. Again, it's the first time somebody probably ran at us like this, so we've got to make sure we're doing the right thing. I thought our kids played hard, and we made them work."

Notre Dame is off to its best start in a decade recording wins over four top- 25 teams including two of those wins coming away from South Bend.

Saturday night Golson was one of the differences in a statement game that vaults the Irish into legitimate discussion for a national title run.

The play of No. 5 became the difference in the Fighting Irish victory. It just wasn't the No. 5 most Sooner fans thought it would be.

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