Young, Cowboys Look Ahead to Troy

Bill Young knows what makes a defense successful and, despite giving up a few big plays against Washington State, he is highly optimistic about his Cowboy unit after the season-opening win. At Monday's media luncheon at Boone Pickens Stadium, Young recapped the defense's performance in Oklahoma State's 65-17 thumping of Washington State and discussed its upcoming matchup with the Troy Trojans.

The second-year defensive coordinator said he was pleased with the overall play of the defense in Saturday's victory but he added that there is no shortage of room for improvement before the Cowboys host the Trojans.

"We didn't play as good as we wanted to play but I don't think you ever do," Young said. "We had some young guys make some mistakes, which we accept because of their youth but we had some other players that are veteran players that can't make those kind of mistakes."

Young said even though his defense gave up a few more long passes than he would have liked, it was understandable to a point because of the number of bodies he got on the field, 33 defenders to be exact.

"It was a heck of a ball game," Young said. "As coaches we graded them and looked at how they played. We played 33 guys on defense, which is a huge number of guys to play. We made some mental mistakes that are correctable.

"Unfortunately it was the same guys making mistakes again; most of them were the younger guys that hadn't played very much, but there were a couple of the older guys that made mistakes and we need to clean that up."

The Cowboys rank 58th in total defense after week one, which could be misleading of its overall performance given how often the defense was on the field. The Cowboy offense ran roughshod on the Cougars and did it quickly. All nine of OSU's offensive scoring drives lasted under three and a half minutes. Six took under two minutes, putting the Cowboy defense on the field often.

But even with the frequency with which the defense took the field, OSU put up impressive numbers.

Washington State ran for just 2.7 yards per carry, completed less than 50 percent of its passes and, out of 17 possessions, the Cougars punted 10 times, turned the ball over twice and went 0-for-2 on fourth down.

Nevertheless, Troy ranks 33rd in total offense entering Saturday's contest and features a balanced approach similar to what the Cowboys accomplished on Saturday. The Trojans threw for 278 yards and gained 211 on the ground in a 30-27 victory against Bowling Green. Young said Troy will be difficult to handle because of its athleticism but its offense's likeness to OSU's will help with preparation.

"Troy has an offense that is very similar to ours," Young said. "So we have had an opportunity to work with it this spring and during two-a-days so that should help us quite a bit. They will have some new wrinkles and some plays that we haven't seen so we will have to adapt and make sure we expose our players to those."

One of the reasons Young is so adamant about his defense's readiness for the Trojans is because of what happened in week two last season. After a confidence building victory to start off the 2009 season the Cowboys suffered a second game letdown in an unexpected loss to Houston. Young described how to avoid a similar loss this week.

"Well, don't play Houston," he said. "They were very good on offense a year ago but seriously that's something we'll bring up to our players, we brought it up to them (Sunday) after we watched the Washington State film. That win's on the shelf, now lets get ready for Troy … there's no question we have to get excited for it."

One of the biggest challenges for Young's defense will be playing without starting defensive tackle Shane Jarka. But Young said he saw positive flashes from two of his youngest reserves in their stead.

"Anthony Rogers has just improved so much, he's light years better than he was a year ago," Young said. "Davidell Collins is getting better and better, too, he's obviously a tall guy but he doesn't have the body weight we want him to have right now but eventually he's going to be a heck of a player. I mean he's going to be big time."

Even with questionable depth, numerous injuries in the front seven and a substandard performance by the secondary in the opener, Young finished his interview with a positive viewpoint of the defense's ability for growth.

"Everything we did in the game wrong is correctable … we've got a lot of work to do this week," he said. "They say a team develops as much as any between its first and second game and hopefully that's the case."

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