Game Grades: Oklahoma Sooners 34, Tennessee Volunteers 10

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The Defense

Defensive Line: A

In the first half the defensive line was absolutely dominant. They helped with getting pressure on Tennessee quarterback Justin Worley all night.

As a team, the Volunteers were only able to rush for 112 yards. A big chunk of that came on a very creative 43 yard running play by Jalen Hurd in the third quarter that caught the Sooners defense off guard.

Jordan Phillips and Chuka Ndulue each had a sack. Even with Charles Walker out for a few games with an injury, the Sooners were still able to show their depth at defensive tackle as freshman Matthew Romar continued to impress with a sack of his own.

A facemask penalty by Phillips that neglected a sack on a third down play was the only real hiccup of the night for the defensive line. The Vols had absolutely no answer for these guys for most of the night.

Linebackers: A

Oklahoma has become used to getting a great performance from their linebackers and against Tennessee they didn’t disappoint.

As usual Eric Striker was unstoppable. He didn’t record a sack, but had two tackles for loss and was in Worley’s face all game long with three hurries on the night.

Jordan Evans and Dominique Alexander were again solid. Between the linebackers and defensive line, the Sooners’ front seven is looking like one of the best in the country.

More from OU Football

Secondary: A

In most cases when you say the pass rush was the difference in the game you start to think defensive line or linebackers. Against the Volunteers, a big chunk of the pass rush came from the secondary.

Safety Quinten Hayes got his second and third sacks of his career on Saturday. The big one was a ferocious hit to the back of Worley that caused a fumble in which Hayes was able to recover himself.

If Hayes wasn’t the player of the game for the secondary then maybe it was Julian Wilson who had an interception return that went for 100 yards for a touchdown. The only questionable moment being the end of that run when he came close to dropping the ball before he crossed the goal line.

You know you had a dominant defensive performance when a Zack Sanchez interception is almost an afterthought. Sanchez has now recorded an interception in four consecutive games and in five of the last six. His improbable interception on Saturday was probably the most impressive of them all as he looked to be just fine after the shoulder injury last week.

This secondary unit came into the season as the only question mark on defense and is starting to look like one of the best Oklahoma has had dating back to Mike Stoops’ first stint with the Sooners. Only injuries  could change that as the Sooners are a little thin at cornerback.

Special Teams: C

Over the past two season the special teams have been a strength for Oklahoma. On Saturday they were the worst unit on the field for either team.

Oklahoma had a field goal attempt blocked in the fourth quarter that unfortunately ended an impressive streak for Michael Hunnicutt of 12 consecutive field goals made. Hunnicutt is now just eight points away from Demarco Murray’s OU scoring record.

In the return game, Oklahoma had a turnover when a Tennessee punt hit freshman Steven Parker and was recovered by the Vols. Parker may not be completely to blame. Shepard appeared hesitant to catch the punt and decided to back away and let it land, but didn’t wave off his teammates until just before the ball landed.

Shepard seems a little timid in the return game this year. He has had several instances in which he called for a fair catch when it appeared as if he had plenty of running room. Perhaps the reported concerns his mother had about him returning punts has played into this.

Recruiting: A

Since I’m in the spirit of throwing in extra categories, why not give the Sooners staff a little credit for a good day of entertaining recruits.

The Sooners were able to pick up two really big commitments on Saturday.

Midwest City safety Will Sunderland committed to the Sooners before the game. Sunderland is ranked as the number 17 safety nationally by and the number eight safety by

Oklahoma also got a commitment from junior college offensive tackle Jamal Danley.

Oklahoma now has 13 commitments for the class of 2015.

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