Barnett: Defense Is Not Going To Let Down

I remember sitting in Glenn Spencer's office when I found out that he had been named defensive coordinator to replace the retiring Bill Young. Young wasn't so crazy about Mike Gundy's timetable to make the change, and now Young is coaching as a quality control coach at Wyoming. Spencer said Monday that he is happy for his former boss and that they routinely text and communicate.

All that is really off the topic. The topic is Spencer and the influence he has had on this defense and not just with X's and O's. Actually, defense is the X's, but Spencer has also had a strong impression on the defensive unit's attitude. The way these players carry themselves, the accountability they have to each other, and the brotherhood they have with each other.

The way they played was impressive while facing 97 snaps from the explosive Texas Tech offense last Saturday in the 52-34 Cowboy win.

"From the first meeting I had with them, I was talking about finding your motivation," remembered Spencer back to January of this year. "It's a process. Last week was just another week in the process, but they had an unbelievable look in their eyes on Saturday.

"I knew they were hurting and I knew they were tired, as a team. Every play was like it was the last play of the last series of their lives. They weren't doing it for themselves. They kept looking at each other and affirming each other, saying 'Let's do it again. We have to do it again.' That's the kind of stuff that makes me proud."

It would make any coach proud. Spencer refuses to bask or let his players bask in any glory as he continues to talk of the process and that it is a week to week situation playing defense the way he wants his player to do so. The players really get it.

"It's a pride thing, in general, with us," said defensive tackle Calvin Barnett, who played Saturday in a jersey torn up so bad and stitched together with shoestring that the equipment staff had a new one ready to go if that one wound up in total shreds and it almost did.

"It starts with our defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer. We are just a prideful defense. The last goal=line stand we had, we were pretty convinced if we had let them score we still would have won, but it wasn't about that for us. It was about making our statement in the Big 12 and in the country; trying to let people know what our defense is really about this year."

That's further evidence of the way the Cowboys defense has adopted the mindset of Spencer and their coaching staff is the attitude about the game with Kansas. Kansas is 2-6 overall and 0-5 in Big 12 play and stuck at the bottom of the conference. Linebacker Shaun Lewis says he does not care.

"Nothing changes for us," said Lewis, who has 37 tackles, three interceptions, and a fumble recovery this season. "We're preparing for them just like we would for Alabama. We're going to come in and study film and practice hard, as always.

"We're going to do everything we need to do to get an edge on them. This Saturday, we're going to hit the tunnel with a lot of emotion and a lot of energy, so we don't have any regrets come Saturday night."

Spencer doesn't see a reason why they shouldn't play that way. Like I said, this is really being passed down very effectively.

"The motivation is that they played at a high level on Saturday, and it wasn't some magic dust that caused it," Spencer explained. "It was that, in their mind, they made a decision, why should that be any different this week? You want to play to your maximum ability and play for each other. Why shouldn't the same process that led to that last week happen again this week?"

"I feel like we continued to do what we've been doing; what we've been trying to do this whole year," Barnett said in backing up his coach's comments. "We've been playing with a lot of intensity and celebrating each other when we make plays.

"Lately, we've been trying to get a lot more turnovers, so I feel like we did pretty well as a defense. Of course, there are things that we didn't do well at times. There were things that we looked at on film that were really bad, but at the end of the day we were able to put it all together."

That is good news for Oklahoma State fans. But probably not the best news for Kansas as they try to get a conference victory for the first time in over three seasons.

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