By Nick Snow
STILLWATER, Okla. —
When Oklahoma State defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer looks at the game film from Saturday, he’ll likely point out a lot of things to his team.
Maybe the fact that Kansas ran for 202 yards and tallied 316 yards of total offense. Or perhaps the fact Oklahoma State only had one turnover, well short of its goal of four or five per game.
But in the end the Cowboys did just enough to keep its quest for a Big 12 title alive, holding the Jayhawks to just two field goals in five possessions inside the 35-yard line.
“It feels like they ran for 400 yards, but that’s just me being pessimistic on the things we gave up,” Spencer said. “...But that’s exceptional. Some of the things we stress is that you have to keep going back out there, and they performed like champions again. There wasn’t an intensity drop off from last week to this week.”
If anything, there was perhaps more of an intensity when the Cowboys had their backs up against the wall and an Oklahoma State offense that struggled at times throughout the game.
“Whenever they got the ball, we really tried to keep them down there where they were,” Oklahoma State senior safety Lyndell Johnson said. “A few times they made it down there to the opposite end. Once they got down there it’s like, ‘Hey, you know their in field goal range so you’ve got to hold them to three.’ They missed one field goal and the other times they made it, but as long as you’re not letting up a touchdown, we’ll take it. We just got to do a better job of keeping them down at the other end and not letting them get in the red zone.”
Keeping out of the end zone has almost become old hat for this Oklahoma State defense — especially at Boone Pickens Stadium. Of the four home games, the Cowboys have allowed four offensive touchdowns — three of them in the red zone.
This was also the third time this season Oklahoma State hasn’t allowed its opponents to reach the end zone, with Mississippi State and Lamar being the other two.
And yet it still wasn’t good enough for Spencer.
“We just had one turnover, right?” Spencer asked. “That was kind of disappointing. We just need to get more, and we know that. We kept talking about it and they just didn’t happen. We have to look at the film and see if there was opportunities to have more, and if we didn’t capitalize on them that’s an issue. But in our room, we consider fourth-downs stops turnovers, too. I know we had a couple of fourth down stops at the end... so that’s a big success for us.”
Of course, even Oklahoma State’s best game won’t be good enough. There will always be something to work on — even if it’s the tiniest of things. That’s just the nature of playing defense.
And while they may not have been absolutely perfect or they may have given up too many big plays, they got the job done. That’s about all you can ask for as they enter a three-week stretch with Texas, Baylor and Oklahoma all that stands between them and a Big 12 title.
“I thought our defense was really consistent in the way they played,” Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy said. “(Kansas) ran the load option and made some plays, and there’s an answer for it. As the field starts to get reduced, it’s more difficult to run those types of plays. ... We tackled and made some plays and get them in second-and-long where it was difficult for them to overcome that.
“We’ve got our hands full with the next one. We have to really practice well, have a good gameplan and have guys fresh and ready to go for the next game. We need to continue to play well on defense, be sound in the kicking game and move the ball on offense.”