Young Expects Defense To Play Well

DALLAS - For the second day in a row Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy cut the length of the practice as the Cowboys ended their typical "Wednesday" practice which falls on a Saturday here at the Heart of Dallas Bowl. The Cowboys finished about 40 minutes earlier than expected as Gundy has been happy, make that very happy, with the effort from the players.

Even though he has worked primarily with the offense in the absence of now Southern Miss head coach Todd Monken, Gundy has kept an eye on the defense. He is convinced that they are sitting on a big effort, one that will supercede the frustrating results on that side of the ball in the last two regular season games against Oklahoma and Baylor.

"I think they have a lot of pride, and at the end of the year we played two really good teams offensively, and I think they felt they should have played better," said the Cowboys head coach.

"I think they take that personal and they have a challenge because the team we are playing has played good at times on offense."

Cowboys defensive coordinator Bill Young has come under fire from the fans primarily through the mediums of talk radio, internet, and social networking.

Young doesn't spend time worrying about critics, but instead is happy with the time investment that the defensive staff and players have made in preparing for a big performance against a Purdue offense that spreads and also pounds the football.

"I don't think it could have been any better and our players are really tuned in," said Young of the bowl preparation both in Stillwater prior to the holiday break and now in Dallas.

"We're trying to peak this at the right time (on Tuesday). We haven't seen a lot of their inside run and trap game during the season, but we've seen it a lot in practice."

"The Big 10 definitely has a lot of teams that like to run like Minnesota, who we watched on TV last night (against Texas Tech in the Car Care Bowl in Houston)," said defensive tackle Nigel Nicholas. "We have to get our pads down and control the line of scrimmage and be ready to shut that all down."

A couple of miles away over at SMU, the Purdue Boilermakers were going through their second practice in Dallas. Interim head coach Patrick Higgins said he felt his team would be up to the challenge.

"I think they are eager, and after you spend five weeks away from the game you get anxious to hit somebody else," said Higgins. "It's like summer camp and after so many weeks you're ready to see somebody else and they are chomping at the bit."

Higgins said the Oklahoma State offense, which he called the best of the Big 12 spread offenses, poses a big challenge for the Purdue defense. But it's one the he believes the defense will be up to.

His star defensive tackle, Kawann Short, is a 6-2, 330-pound road block that is ready for the challenge.

"Looking on film they are pretty good," said Short. "We are going out with the idea that we are going to stop the run game, and we feel our DBs can do a good job and cover their receivers and we can get some rush and do a good job against the pass. We just need to make sure they can't run the ball."

Short said he will not take anything for granted. Neither will the Cowboys offense line as they can't afford to.

The Cowboys will practice for the final time at Highland Park High School on Sunday, and then go through their final walk through on Monday in the Cotton Bowl.

Kickoff with the Purdue Boilermakers is early on New Year's Day at 11 a.m. The Cowboys will be looking to win their eighth game of the season.

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