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Oklahoma's 'Sharks' struggle in loss

NORMAN, Okla. -- It was a game that Demontre Hurst would like to forget.

When the Oklahoma cornerback reviewed the film of the Sooners' 41-38 loss to Texas Tech, it wasn't pretty. He saw it all -- blown assignments, missed tackles, bad play recognition and poor coverage.

"We wanted to not watch it," Hurst said. "But we had to man up and own up to our mistakes. We don't want to dwell on a loss; it is what it is."

The Sooners' defensive backs, which are known as the "Sharks," played like pet goldfish against the Red Raiders as Texas Tech passed for 452 yards and four touchdowns in the upset.

"Film doesn't lie," safety Tony Jefferson said. "I feel like our defense just didn't play well the whole game."

The Sharks have played well for much of the season, but they also struggled at different times before last weekend. Against Missouri, they got off to a slow start, allowing 124 passing yards in the first quarter, and they also gave up big plays to Tulsa and Florida State through the air in those non-conference victories.

After his team's upset victory, Texas Tech coach Tommy Tuberville said he felt like the Sooners hadn't faced a passing team like his Red Raiders in OU's first six games, and Tech offensive coordinator Neal Brown said he "liked the matchups on the perimeter" heading into the game, because he felt his receivers could have some success against the Sharks.

And they did.

Tech quarterback Seth Doege was outstanding, passing for 441 yards while completing 63.5 percent of his passes. The junior used his feet to create more time to find open receivers and his arm to make several pinpoint passes. Four Tech receivers caught at least four passes and four had at least 75 receiving yards as Doege was able to spread the ball around.

"It was a bad game overall," Hurst said. "As a secondary, I don't think we were totally locked in."

The expectation for the Sharks is not to hold every opposing receiver without a catch. But they are expected to win more than their share of the battles, and they didn't do that against Texas Tech.

"We didn't make any plays," Hurst said. "We didn't make crucial plays when we needed to, and they kind of had us on our heels."

Oklahoma was beaten twice on slip screen passes for touchdowns, a perfect example of the Sooners' poor play in the secondary. On both touchdowns, OU had defenders who could have made a play if they had beaten a block. Instead, Red Raiders receiver Alex Torres weaved through the Sooners secondary to score.

"Poor defense, poor reaction, poor anticipation," Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said of those slip screen touchdowns.

Texas Tech receivers consistently won the one-on-one battles with the Sharks last Saturday, both on their routes and with their blocks.

"We had some good plays here and there," Jefferson said. "But in college football now-a-days, especially against Tech, you can't afford all those bad plays we had.

"You can't win any ballgame playing like that."

If OU expects to complete the season with one loss and win a Big 12 Championship, busts in the secondary can't happen. Particularly with pass-happy Texas A&M, Baylor and Oklahoma State looming on the Sooners' schedule down the stretch.

"It's discouraging and disappointing, but it's a new week," Jefferson said.

Brandon Chatmon covers University of Oklahoma sports and recruiting for SoonerNation. He can be reached at bchatmonespn@gmail.com.

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