Putting It In Perspective: OSU 61, ULL 34

OK, the debut is done. Game one is in the books and it's in the good column, a 61-34 win over the Ragin Cajuns of Louisiana. I know what everybody wants to do. We need to pick this game apart and see if everything in the House of Gundy is in order.

We'll start with offense. My goodness 666 yards in an opening game with 208 yards rushing and Joseph Randle in his first start going for 129 yards and two touchdowns on 22 carries. Not to mention, how about that freshman coming on late in Desmond Roland with 63 yards on just eight totes? Brandon Weeden threw for 388 yards and three touchdowns and Clint Chelf was a perfect 4-of-4 for 70 yards and a touchdown.

Yes, new offensive coordinator Todd Monken likes to run the football a little more, but he did some of it out of formations that put defenses on the edge thinking pass. Keep 'em guessing on the defensive side and you will generally make a lot of yards, first downs and score points. Hey, Justin Blackmon's touchdown streak was broken at 12 games, but his 100-yards streak wasn't with eight receptions for 144 yards and 10 players caught passes with four different receivers catching touchdown passes.

Special teams, that's usually good for something to gripe about. Quinn Sharp would not be it as he was excellent with good kickoffs most of the night, 11 kickoffs and seven were touchbacks. He punted twice for a 50-yard average and was perfect on PAT and field goal attempts. Oh no, wait, Sharp's first punt was returned 31 yards. Cover units are always good to hound some in a blowout win. I'll guess that will get corrected.

Defense, yeah defense, voters in the polls will wake up tomorrow, be they coach or media member, and they will look at the score and say to themselves, "same old Oklahoma State." They will shake their head and say, "Man, those guys can do the offense with 61 points and 666 yards, but how about that defense giving up 34 points? Will those guys in orange, wait a second, those guys in gray ever learn how to stop somebody?"

Unless they decide to look deeper, they will be wrong. Through three quarters of the game Oklahoma State led the Cajuns 44-20, but the first team defense gave up all of 173 yards on 48 snaps. That is an average of 3.6 yards a snap. They allowed just 61 yards rushing and Louisiana had completed just 10-of-24 passes. The first team defense was responsible for giving up all of six points.

"That just goes to working hard all summer and all through two-a-days," said defensive end Richetti Jones. "The defense, we don't get a lot of credit, but we don't need a lot of credit. We just need to keep on working to change everybody's view of the Oklahoma State defense."

"We set goals as a defense, things we want to accomplish as a team," said fellow senior defensive end Jamie Blatnick. "We weren't sure if they were going to be run heavy or pass heavy and we kind of thought run heavy. They gave us some chances to pin our ears and go after the quarterback."

Coach Mike Gundy was really happy that his defense played physical as he was a skeptic of his own decision to not go full tackle in scrimmages and he found out that it worked.

"I was concerned with that and that was a decision that we made, personally, the coaching staff and I that we think that is the future, for guys to play fast in preseason and not beat each other up," Gundy said. "We will watch the tape and see how physical we were and how we tackled and we will compare that to our lack of efforts. If those went down then there is a good chance that they felt good, felt fresh, and they weren't beat up in their shoulders. The more that we can keep them prepared to hit on Saturdays the better."

Nobody was complaining, but what we failed to mention in the review of the offense was that Brandon Weeden had a rare case of forcing the issue in the game tonight and three of those forced passes ended up in enemy hands and two found the end zone. The first one was a freak play as Josh Cooper couldn't handle a pass and it sat on his shoulderpad and kind of rolled up his helmet before Cajun corner Dwight Bentley grabbed it and ran it 38 yards into the end zone. In the second half Jemarlou Moten stole one cleanly and took it 50 yards for a score.

In the fourth quarter the Louisiana offense drove 82 yards for a score on the second and third team defense, many freshmen like linebackers Ryan Simmons and Nico Ornelas getting action along with freshman defensive end Jimmy Bean. Then on a series where the Cowboy coaches were playing everybody Louisiana drove 80 yards for the last score in the game.

"We put all the freshman in the game that are going to compete for us this year," explained Gundy. "We put all the demonstration guys in. I think everybody played and that is really good. Their moms and dads come to see them play and the get to play, 8, 9, 10, or 12 plays and that is really what it's all about. Could you leave the ones in and hold them to 16 points? Probably, but that wouldn't matter. It matters that the young kids and the guys that work hard get into the game."

Nobody on defense is upset or pointing fingers, but they are human and it is tough to now that so many casual observers won't realize that this crew is better. They also hit their goal of five sacks. They forced two fumbles and an interception. They also had five three-and-outs in the first three quarters.

"We had guys like D. Lowe at safety, that hadn't played very much and missed all last year step up and make plays," said Gundy. "We got good edge pressure and overall, we played pretty well on defense."

"We can't just go out and expect it to happen," said sophomore cornerback Devin Hedgepeth, who got an interception in the opener. We know we have to work hard and prepare and then at the end then people will recognize that."

The Cowboy defenders will be fine. They are more than happy with the win and they understand that their defensive prowess is not a one game wonder. The skeptics and those that don't pay close attention have plenty of time and season left to find out what these Oklahoma State defenders are all about. You see sometimes the numbers don't tell the story.

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