OSU Defense Among Best at Turnovers, Sacks

Many fans have expressed concern regarding the Oklahoma State defense after it surrendered an eye-popping 535 yards of offense to Texas A&M. OSU allowed 15 combined third and fourth-down conversions to the Aggies while losing time of possession by nearly 10 minutes in the fourth quarter alone. While the defense may have its detractors, defensive coordinator Bill Young is not among them.

"We were pleased. We really were," Young said. "We were excited to win the ball game although we were disappointed in some ways. We made some errors that we shouldn't be making."

Among the errors Young mentioned were the third-down conversions, which routinely kept Aggie drives alive.

"Obviously we can play a lot better," he said. "We had some breakdowns that gave them some first downs on third down and we have to eliminate those."

Even though Young said the defense needs to eliminate late-down conversions, his defense did respond by eliminating Aggie drives with turnovers.

The defense forced A&M senior quarterback Jerrod Johnson into five on Thursday night, including four interceptions and a fumble that resulted in a 63-yard James Thomas touchdown to put the Cowboys up 14 early in the fourth quarter.

Actually, even though the young Cowboy unit currently ranks near the bottom nationally in total defense (96th), scoring defense (91st) and passing defense (110th), OSU has leveled the playing field by being among the nation's leaders in turnovers and sacks.

The Cowboys are tied with their Bedlam rivals atop the Big 12 and rank sixth nationally in turnovers forced with 14. The Cowboy defense has been balanced in its takeaways with seven coming from both fumbles and interceptions.

OSU also ranks 21st in sacks per game with 2.5, including four against A&M.

While the OSU defense doesn't look great on paper, Young said part of the reason could be lost in translation because of the explosive nature of the Cowboy offense and the youth on defense.

The offense ranks second nationally in scoring but typically goes about its 52.25 points per outing at a torrid pace, putting the defense on the field more than it's accustomed to. Add that fact to a bevy of freshmen in the two-deep roster and the numbers could be construed as misleading.

"It's a combination of many things," Young said. "We're playing so many more snaps this year than we did a year ago. We had 106 plays in one game against A&M, which might have equaled two games a year ago. But it's not only that, we've made mistakes and given up some big yardage and it's not one individual, it's a different guy every time.

"We were out there at practice yesterday and we looked and we had nine freshmen out there at one time on the second unit. It's a lot of young guys out there trying to figure everything out. We will get things corrected, it just comes with experience."

Young said while 106 snaps can wear down a defense and isn't preferable, it comes as a catch 22 because the number of snaps assists with the experience the defense needs.

With everything going the way it has thus far, Young said some of the youth and early struggles might come as a blessing in disguise after an emotional, last-second win in the team's conference opener. The reason being is that the defense needs to reestablish its focus as the Cowboys not only leave conference play, but also leave the friendly confines of Boone Pickens Stadium for the first time in 2010.

The Cowboys travel to play the Louisiana Rajin' Cajuns on Friday in another nationally televised contest, this time on ESPN 2 at 8:05 p.m.

Young said all of the contributing factors lead him to believe he won't face much of a challenge in getting his defense fired up to play in the Bayou.

"I don't think it's going to be very hard at all," he said. "We had a good workout yesterday and then a couple days off, which is good for them to recharge their batteries and get over everything that happened in the game, but they're pretty excited about things right now and they know the challenges ahead. They're looking forward to every game we have left and approaching things the right way."

"I don't know if I would say it's a trap game honestly. We're a young football team and our expectation level is really high but I really don't think we're going to overlook anyone."

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