Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops watched his new corners, Jamell Fleming and Demontre Hurst, make plays all spring and fall. He saw it when they played in spot duty last season, too. The same goes for his safeties, Quinton Carter and Jonathan Nelson, who played extensively in 2009.
Last week, he watched them give up 341 yards through the air and beat Utah State by just a touchdown, a team the Sooners beat 54-3 in 2007. Media poll voters were unimpressed enough to drop the Sooners three spots to No. 10, despite holding a 1-0 record.
He's made it clear which was a better representation of his secondary's abilities.
"As much as anything, it’s guys just playing the ball, and I’ve seen these guys do that a good number of times," Stoops said. "So I’ve got a lot of confidence they’ll be able to do that."
They'll have to with Florida State's Christian Ponder coming to Norman. Oklahoma's secondary gave up 300 yards passing just twice last season. The Sooners lost both games, against Max Hall and BYU, and Taylor Potts and Texas Tech.
In last week's season opener, Utah State quarterback Diondre Borel joined the 300 Club, but Oklahoma held on for a win. The result might be different if Ponder burns Oklahoma's secondary like Borel. But the Sooners' corners went back to work all week.
"A lot of practice and pointing out and recognizing areas and ways we could have made plays. It’s really not that difficult," Stoops said. "They just misplayed a few balls. That happens from time to time."
For all the Sooners' early struggles, Utah State got the ball four times, including three times in the fourth quarter, down 31-24. The Sooners defense held them scoreless on each drive, including a game-sealing interception by Fleming on the final drive with just over four minutes to play.
Saturday will show which Sooners secondary shows: the one that gave up two third-quarter touchdowns to let the Aggies back into the game after jumping out to a 21-0 lead, or the defense that firmed up with the game in doubt to pitch a fourth-quarter shutout and secure the win.
"Next time, we’ll be able to play it," Stoops said. "I've seen them do it in games last year as well, so anyway, it’s something I’ve seen happen over and over, and I’m fairly certain I’ll see them play it again."