Young's Pass Defense Ready For Texas Tech?

The Oklahoma State defense has provided a source of frustration for Cowboy fans despite the team's 5-0 record. With the 18th-ranked Cowboys' heading into a matchup with Texas Tech in Lubbock on Saturday, there are a number of concerns outside of just the Cowboys' 11-game losing streak at Tech that dates back to Word War II. On the top of the list of doubts: pass defense.

Texas Tech ranks behind only OSU in passing offense in the Big 12 and they're fourth nationally with 351.6 yards per game.

Meanwhile, OSU ranks dead last in the Big 12 and 118th nationally in pass defense.

"Texas Tech's offense is going to be very similar to Troy," defensive coordinator Bill Young said. "They are going to spread you out and throw a lot of screens all over the place. One of the issues we had with that kind of offense is that if you miss a tackle in open spaces they are gone."

Tech has always passed the ball well and its history against the Cowboys is no different, however, Young outlined a new wrinkle Tech has added under new coach Tommy Tuberville that will add an extra measure of difficulty.

"They'll still air it out but the biggest difference in them now is that they run the ball — a lot," Young said. "They run powers, leads, seals and so forth. In the past their run game was zone."

Even though the Cowboys have been torched through the air, OSU's defense has been far more consistent in the second halves of games and Young explained a little bit of the process behind locking down teams after the break — starting with whether his halftime speeches are instructional or motivational.

"We strive for both but it's definitely instructional and we gather up as coaches and sit down and talk about what our breakdowns are and what our corrections need to be," Young said.

"(Linebackers coach Glenn) Spencer is in the press box so it's really his only opportunity to talk to the linebackers. He takes the lead and coaches them up first as the whole defense is listening and then we'll all pitch in our two cents. Then he goes back to the press box and we finish it up."

While it would be understandable if some of the frustrations from on the field leaked into the process, Young said the players are treated like students.

"It's a classroom session," Young said. "It's a correction time. It's a time where everyone is listening and make sure they understand exactly what the issues are. It's a pretty intense time but also it's for learning and teaching."

Young said the process the defense goes through at halftime and its benefits could be seen by what the defense was able to do to Louisiana-Lafayette on the road. After OSU trailed 21-17 at the half, the defense didn't allow a single second-half score by the Cajuns. The only touchdown the Cajuns managed came on a kick return in their 54-28 loss to the Pokes.

And a lot of the progress came from changes the staff made in the defensive secondary, which could play a pivotal role again this weekend against Taylor Potts, Baron Batch, Lyle Leong and Co. as the Cowboys try to move to 2-0 in Big 12 play for the third consecutive year and keep an unbeaten season alive.

"We were playing a little bit soft on our edges and on the base coverage and so we changed some things and I think that helped us a lot," he said. "We ended up getting a pick early in the second half and I think that changed the complexion of things for us."

"We went to playing a lot of cover two where we were harder on the corners and, every time we would blitz, they were throwing little hitch routes and out routes away from the blitz. It was a soft spot and they were hitting us in the weakness of our defense. So we started bluffing and giving them something where they didn't know what they were going to get."

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