By Nick Snow
STILLWATER, Okla. —
Turnovers have become such a common place for the Oklahoma State defense that safety Lyndell Johnson recites the strategy without even thinking about it — rip, strip and punch.
Yet even after last week’s loss to West Virginia — a game in which the Cowboys created two turnovers — Johnson still felt unsatisfied. He knows they should have had more.
“Even as a defense we feel like we could have strained a little bit more,” Johnson said. “Maybe if we would have strained a little bit more we could have got one or two more turnovers on certain plays. We all agreed that we should have strained a little bit more than what we were doing and it could have changed the outcome of the game.”
As a result, the Cowboys (3-1, 0-1 in Big 12) find themselves in unfamiliar territory — near the bottom of the Big 12 with only seven turnovers heading into Saturday’s game against Kansas State.
“We all got it in our heads that we need more turnovers to win a game,” Johnson said. “Everyone’s going to be trying to rip, strip and punch the ball out. We’re going to try to get in the quarterback’s face and make sure he throws a bad ball that allows our secondary to get in position to make a play on the ball.”
Oklahoma State may only have one fumble recovery — and that one coming in the 59-3 blowout of Lamar — but Oklahoma State defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer isn’t about to sound the alarm just yet.
“I don’t know if we could do much more than what we do,” Spencer said. “You emphasize it, you have drill work with it. Turnovers happen when you get a multitude of people around the ball, people putting their face on the ball and people stripping it when they have opportunities. ... There have been a couple situations where we have pass breakups and deflections where we should have been a receiver.”
In fact, there’s actually a method to Spencer’s madness to becoming a Big 12 leader in turnovers.
“Ever since I got here, we’d like to say that one out of every 25 snaps we’d get a turnover,” Spencer said. “The average game goes 75 plays, so you’d like to have three turnovers. Last game went 90 plays, so we’d like to have had four. In reality, it’s whatever it takes to win the game but that’s kind of a benchmark we use.”
The Cowboys will have a chance to make up for lost time Saturday. Kansas State (2-2, 0-1 in Big 12) is dead last in the Big 12 in turnover margin. Along with only four defensive takeaways, the Wildcats have nine giveaways — third most in the Big 12.
“I guess you can say it does give us more confidence, knowing that they have turned the ball over a lot,” Johnson said. “But I feel like we have all the confidence in the world through this last year. We’re all going to get everything corrected because we don’t want to lose any more games. From here on out, we’re just going to do whatever it takes to get those turnovers.”