Cowboys Football: Win In Lubbock Was Huge

Oklahoma State deserved to celebrate on the return flight from Lubbock on Saturday night. This was a full team effort from Daytawion Lowe's big hits and determined effort to cover jumbo inside receiver Jace Amaro of Texas Tech to the blocked punt early by junior walk-on Derek Branson to the determined runs from Desmond Roland, Jeremy Smith, Rennie Childs and speedster quarterback Clint Chelf.

Everyone has to be treating Oklahoma State with a tad more respect following the 52-34 victory over the 15th-ranked Red Raiders, from a few fans in the Cowboys stable to some members of the local media (really, every writer at The Oklahoman picked Texas Tech to win Saturday) to the national media to the BCS computer polls.

"That was a good win for our team," head coach Mike Gundy said. "I thought it was the first game this year where we played together in all three units, with the exception of San Antonio.

"But for conference, once we got going, we were good on offense. We were good on defense, and good in special teams. So I was proud of our team. I thought that we blocked, continued to block well up front, without watching the tape. We ran the ball hard.

"I thought Clint ran the football well and made a couple of mistakes in the throwing game, got caught on a drop in one time and threw a pick six for a touch. Made a bad read on one pass. Overall, his passing was better. Thought we caught the ball good," Gundy added.

Gundy had compliments for all three phases of the game. Lately, he had talked after games of being good in two out of three, but last week at Iowa State that started to morph on offense into a three-prong strong effort and it was more evident against the Red Raiders.

The defense played well too.

"Defense was tremendous. This is not an easy place to play at nighttime when they're throwing it around. They made 97 plays," Gundy said of having to defend 97 plays from the Texas Tech offense.

"So I was proud of those guys. We had a couple guys get beat up. There was times we were playing a freshman (Deric Robertson) at safety. And so guys just had to rally together. I thought Tyler did a heck of a job on our special teams again this week. He's been really good over the last -- well, really all year. Over the last month, month and a half, to get another punt block and essentially return another one for a touchdown."

Finding ways to click in all three phases of the game was just too much for Texas Tech, according to head coach Kliff Kingsbury, who was somewhat sullen after the game. All week he and the entire Tech community had pushed this game as a way to jump up a notch in the Big 12 race. Instead, it now appears Tech will have to play a role of spoiler in upcoming games with Baylor and Texas.

"Yeah, you can't do that to a team with a senior quarterback and a top-15 type team," Kingsbury said of the mistakes. "You just can't do it. So we were behind and got out of our game plan both offensively and defensively because of that, and then we were just chasing it the rest of the night."

After breaking out to a 21-0 lead the Cowboys went into halftime with a 28-24 advantage. The real advantage is halftime as Oklahoma State seems to be the kings of adjustments as evidenced by the fact that the Cowboys have outscored their opponents 87-16 in the third quarter this season.

The big adjustments in the game against Tech were when defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer and his staff made a coverage adjustment to secure the middle of the field and offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich and his staff made an adjustment with Clint Chelf keeping the ball in the run game to expose the middle of the Tech defense.

"They were taking a considerable more chances with blitz and pressure to stop the running game and, just in our opinion, they didn't feel like they could do it in base," Gundy explained. "In the first half, we were running the ball effectively. So they were getting other guys in the box and trying to bring some pressure. And when you do that, in basics of football, sometimes you're more vulnerable in the middle of the field."

The Cowboys finished with 281 rushing yards (an average of 5.1 yards a run). Everybody got into the act with Roland leading the way with 96 yards, Chelf with 88 yards, Childs with his second half fresh legs had nine carries for 71 yards and Jeremy Smith had a 23-yard run in the first half to set up a score.

"We're running more physical, and really that's what you have to do nowadays, kind of the way defenses play. So we've improved in that area," Gundy added. "We made a strong commitment to it three weeks ago. We were really, really poor early in the year, and we've changed some things and made a strong commitment, and the kids have bought in."

Speaking of physical, the defense played very physical. Beginning with the big hit safety Daytawion Lowe made early on Amaro to force a fumble that was only called after a review. Later, the icing on the cake for the night, was the goal-line stand in the fourth quarter that forced the remaining Red Raiders fans that hadn't already left heading for the exit.

Lowe was tough all night on a really tough player in Amaro, who had a career-best 15 catches for 174 yards.

"We knew that was their number one target, and he's a big, good, physical receiver, so we knew at the end of the day that we had to control him," said Lowe. "We had to keep him and contain him in order to win his man today."

"One of the biggest things that we stress in practice is getting the ball back for the offense and giving them more opportunities," middle linebacker Caleb Lavey, who intercepted his third pass this season. "You know, our defensive coaches do a great job at stressing that. It's a goal we have to get every single practice, and, I mean, it's an even bigger goal for every game. So the coaches constantly push us in practice, and it just makes its way on to the field on Saturday."

It's probably not as easy as Lavey makes it sounds but it sure was a lot of fun. Texas Tech has now lost to OSU the past three seasons by a combined 116 points, lost five times in a row to the Cowboys, and for the first time in Big 12 history a team has won in Lubbock three times in a row.

Most of all, the Cowboys are very much alive in the Big 12 race and Texas Tech is looking for consolation. The Cowboys aren't looking for it but it is time to brag just a little.

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