Defense Is Letting Their Play Do The Talking

STILLWATER -- The Oklahoma State defense was flying around the field Saturday making one big play after another. They were celebrating following the early interception by Justin Gilbert, the late interception by Zack Craig, a sack by linebacker Shaun Lewis, another sack by Caleb Lavey and defensive tackle Calvin Barnett, and young defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah's first career sack.

On the sidelines new defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer was jumping around like he was at Badger Stadium in Wisconsin. The players were chest bumping and fist pumping. Then after the game, back in the locker room it was reserved and calm.

Yes, the defense played well but it was a team effort and there is a lot of improvement to be made.

Whoaa there, defensive efforts like the 21-3 domination of Mississippi State have been few and far between in Stillwater. There have been a lot of forced turnovers like in the 2011 season but very few dominating efforts outside a shutout of Savannah State.

The yards and points have piled up on a lot of Saturdays, but not this one as Mississippi State totaled just 333 total yards and only 228 in the final three quarters. The Bulldogs managed just 10 yards and no first downs in the third quarter.

"Everybody had a chip on their shoulder. We know how we can play," said strong safety Shamiel Gary, who had 10 tackles, all unassisted. "We think that every game is a stepping stone toward how we're going to play for the rest of the year."

"We are always very excited to get in there and be aggressive and hit the offense in the mouth and have a different attitude about it," added Lavey, the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week.

"I love being challenged every once in a while and then overachieve," said defensive tackle James Castleman.

Those are decent quotes but not the kind of chest-pumping, testosterone-fueled, we-are-the-greatest type of comments that so often come out of today's self-promoting athletes. What's the deal? Seize the moment and make a headline for gosh sakes.

"Honestly, I can't say that much because we've only had one game so far. But as the year goes on we might be able to answer that a little better then," said Castleman on Monday when asked if he and his teammates could be just as effective in stopping a more multiple or spread offense like they will see in UTSA and in the Big 12.

"I feel like we are a lot better. Yes sir, we are trying to let our play talk," said Castleman.

It's okay to let your play talk but that doesn't mean you can't move and flap your lips some too. Spencer last week refused to brag on his defense and said he wanted to wait and see them play.

After the game, he said they could feel good for that night and they earned that but nothing more. The defense is not "made men" yet and there was still plenty to prove. In this age of talk first, action second, the Cowboys head coach likes what he is seeing and even more what he is hearing.

"We try to instill in them from the day they get here in saying the right thing in a team concept," explained Gundy. "It has to be displayed and has to start with the coaching staff that way, and that is the way we have to react.

"In turn they will see us do that and take on our attitude and our approach. They've got some things they need to work on also. We didn't tackle that well in the secondary and that is a condition with our practices (thud). We need to get better in our first quarter pass rush which wasn't very good at that stage. We need to improve in those areas. We'll see where this defense goes over the next month of the season."

Starting with Saturday in San Antonio where Spencer is quick to say that the UTSA Roadrunners are no patsy waiting to get beat. After last week, nobody should be planning on patsies unless Savannah State is on the schedule.

"They won eight games last year," said Spencer. "They had a good showing on Saturday, beating New Mexico on the road. It all starts with their quarterback. He has a very quick release. No. 1 is a slot receiver, but he's also the kind of guy who they just want to get the ball in his hands. They'll get him in the backfield at some times, too.

"UTSA recruited the San Antonio area really well two years ago, and now those guys are upperclassmen. They have an experienced football team, and they know how to win games. Coach (Larry) Coker has those guys believing they can win, so it probably wasn't a shock for them to beat New Mexico."

On top of that this is a coming out party for the Roadrunners as this will be their first time to host a BCS opponent in the Alamodome, and the Cowboys are the honored guest. In other words, UTSA has a cauldron of boiling water going at midfield and is hoping to cook the Cowboys up in front of 60,000 witnesses.

OSU is a 31-point favorite and deserves that but momentum is a strange bird, could even be a Roadrunner.

"They've earned that. That is not just something that they've talked about. They've earned that," repeated Spencer. "They didn't just go out to New Mexico thinking they would win, They were prepared to do that.

"I read some articles afterwards and they talked like that was what they expected to go out and do. I don't think it will be very intimidating for us to come down to their home field."

However, watching video this week of that Oklahoma State defense just might be a little intimidating. It hasn't been that way in a while.

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