Young: Defense Must Stop Thomas

In Oklahoma State's 51-41 loss to Nebraska on Saturday, the Cowboys lost in a way no one would have predicted. Nebraska — the nation's 111th ranked passing offense — threw on the Cowboys at will, en route to a career day for Husker quarterback Taylor Martinez through the air.

What made the passing frenzy even more catastrophic for the Pokes was that it opened up opportunities for what the Huskers preferred to do all along — run.

In OSU's weekly media conference, defensive coordinator Bill Young reflected on the unit's performance.

"We missed a ton of tackles, that was the difference, we missed 33 tackles," Young said. "We were trying to blow the guys up instead of just wrapping up, driving our feet and doing what we've done."

All-in-all, it's difficult to pinpoint exactly when things went wrong for OSU in its first loss of the season, but what matters to Young now is how his defense responds and prepares to handle the Kansas State Wildcats. And Young has been pleased with what he's seen.

"It's been tremendous," he said. "They're a lot more resilient than us coaches. As coaches, we'll carry this to our grave but the players are over it in about 24 hours."

And getting over a loss quickly is exactly what Young said the defense needed to do in order to prepare for a K-State team that is built almost exactly like Nebraska.

KSU is a run-first offense but it has proven more than capable of putting the ball in the air with great efficiency. One added wrinkle the Wildcats have that is unlike most offenses OSU has faced thus far is the sheer size they have on offense, starting with all-conference running back Daniel Thomas, who is imposing at 6-foot-2, 230 pounds.

"They're really a talented football team, they played a heck of a game at Baylor," Young said. "Their quarterback is athletic and can throw the football and they have a great tailback. The offensive line is enormous and one tight end is 6-foot-8. They're a big and physical football team."

While Young glowed about the range and size of the K-State offense, he has been particularly impressed with the versatility of Thomas. While the Cowboys will likely try to control the game by pounding the ball with Kendall Hunter, Young's defense will try to prevent K-State from employing the same strategy with Thomas.

The Wildcat running back ranks seventh nationally in rushing with 895 yards, which ranks second in the Big 12 to Hunter.

"He is big and he is very athletic. He threw a touchdown pass, which I think was against Baylor," Young said. "He was a quarterback in high school so he has that ability to throw the ball. He also plays wide receiver, so he is the full package."

Even though Young has great respect for they offense KSU will put on the field in Manhattan, Kan., on Saturday morning, he has far more for the man who will lead the ‘Cats onto the field.

"(Bill Snyder) has done an unbelievable job with that program," he said. "He inherited the program when Kansas State was so bad they couldn't beat the sisters of the poor and now they are winning championships and competing. He has done such a great job."

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