Todd Monken: We'll Be Looking For Balance

When the Oklahoma State Cowboys rolled over Oklahoma 38-28 on Lewis Field back in 2002, then wide receivers coach Todd Monken was beside himself. He couldn't believe the Cowboys had not only beaten Oklahoma but offensively they dominated the Sooners, primarily because Rashaun Woods, the player he coached could not be stopped. Heck, the joke then and now is that Woods is still open.

Part of Monken's reaction from that day 10 years ago is because at the time Oklahoma was considered so much more of a dominant program than Oklahoma State. Monken is back at OSU, returning from Jacksonville in the NFL, and now Oklahoma State is a program that is one of the haves rather than a have not.

"Like anything, if you want to win the conference or be considered a good program, you have to beat the teams who are usually on top," Monken said when asked during Monday's football news conference about Bedlam.

"Things only become rivalries when you make them competitive for a championship. For years, Michigan-Ohio State meant a lot because it was considered the Big Ten championship. Same thing for years with Florida and Tennessee.

"That's what you want it to be; where it's competitive on both ends. Obviously, they're in the same state as we are. When you have a program as successful as theirs, that's where you aspire to be. You want to be somewhere where you have a chance to win every game, and I think Mike Gundy has done a great job of getting us to that point," added Monken.

Monken's chore on Saturday is to top an effort from a year ago in which the Cowboys beat the Sooners 44-10 in Stillwater to clinch the Big 12 Championship and secure a BCS bowl berth.

In that game the Oklahoma State defense helped out with five turnovers, including one Richetti Jones took to the end zone and another that Jamie Blatnick returned 59 yards to the 1-yard line. Still, the Cowboys offense had 495 total yards and 278 rushing yards.

On his national call-in radio show Monday night, Gundy said he expects starting quarterback Clint Chelf to keep up his heady and steady play despite this being his first start on the road. Chelf came in for the injured Wes Lunt in Manhattan, Kan., against then second-ranked Kansas State.

Gundy is counting on Chelf being ready to play in a tough road environment.

"Well, anytime you play on the road, it's hard," Monken expressed. "It's hard to win on the road any way, but it's harder to win on the road against teams who are well-coached and have really good players.

"Over the last couple years our place has become difficult to play. Why? Because we have good coaches and good players. Obviously the crowd (has helped), but the players and coaches also make it a tough place to play."

It will help if the Cowboys can run the football like they did a year ago, or like West Virginia did last week against OU. Remember though, West Virginia ran on the Sooners like they've never been run on before with explosive wide receiver Tavon Austin moving to the backfield to thrash OU for close to 345 yards on the ground.

"Well, we are different teams. I'm not sure we can do what they did. We don't have Tavon Austin to put in our backfield," Monken said. "The guy is a special player.

"Every week is different. OU does a really good job, they're well-coached and they have really good players. I don't see it as one week a team did this, another, this. Otherwise, someone can look at what we did at Kansas and say we're not any good on offense, which isn't true."

OU head coach Bob Stoops said Monday in his news conference in Norman that he and his staff would make adjustments and get the run defense fixed. But one thing Oklahoma has featured on defense this season is the use of seven defensive backs with some at the linebackers and making it much harder for spread passing teams in the Big 12 to spread and pass through the OU defense.

But it also can make it easier to run, and the last two weeks that is what both Baylor (in a loss at Norman) and West Virginia (in a 50-49 loss in Morgantown) did. In the end they still both lost.

"They match up well with you. They aren't afraid to put extra defensive backs on the field," Monken explained. "They made a conscientious decision, you can see it on film, to matchup with you and force you to execute.

"They'll put athletic guys out there who have a chance to cover you. In a league that throws it a bunch, that's smart. We have to figure out ways that we can run it and throw it effectively. That's the challenge; they're going to match you athletically."

That is the challenge because if you are going to beat the Sooners, you'd better be balanced. A successful balanced attack will do more than create big numbers and leave you with a loss. A balanced offense gives a team a chance to win.

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