Defense Has Its Work Cut Out With Texas

We've come to know this season that each week is a new week for defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer as he readies his Oklahoma State defense for its next challenge. The catch words of "stay humble," "be focused," and "don't believe what the media is saying" are repeated nearly every week as Spencer, who leads one to believe the offense of that week is going to keep him up at night.

Spencer's defense currently stands as the number two scoring defense in the Big 12, allowing just 19.7 points a game, just 4.3 points a game behind leader Baylor.

In total defense, the Cowboys are fourth and they are number two in rushing defense, allowing 131.7 yards a game and just roughly six yards a game behind leader TCU.

However, what should scare Mack Brown, offensive coordinator Major Applewhite and the Longhorns offense the most is that Oklahoma State is tops in turnover margin at plus-11 and plus-1.22 a game. They are also tops in opponent third down conversions allowing just a 29.6 percent success rate. That is new and vastly improved territory for the Cowboys defense.

Spencer counters with what concerns him about Texas, even with the injury to the Big 12 Conference's second-leading rusher in Johnathan Gray, is the Longhorns are fourth in rushing offense, averaging 197.3 yards a game and Texas is now averaging 34.4 points a game.

hey have a big offensive line that Spencer says is the best his defensive front has faced this season.

"They're powerful. The offensive line is really good," Spencer said with conviction. "For big guys, when they make contact, they don't absorb. They drive.

"As a staff, we look at them and think this is the best offensive line we've seen this year. It has power and quickness. The running backs run so hard, and they have skill guys who can keep you honest. There's a reason they've won their last six games while averaging 35 points per game."

Texas is also using tempo, but according to Spencer it's not just one tempo, they split their tempo into two.

"I think they pick their times to go really fast, as opposed to just no-huddle fast," Spencer said. "There are times they will be lined up and ready to run their play regardless of what the defense is showing, but there are other times where they line up fast to try to get the defense to show their hand, and then check into the correct play.

"What I respect is their ability to change the tempo like that. You have to have your next call ready to go in your mind. We have to do a good job in the box of figuring out the pattern as the game goes along."

Finally, the other aspect of the matchup that has Spencer's attention is that Texas is playing with a lot of confidence, the kind of positive football vibes that come from winning six games in a row. The kind of confidence that led to head coach Mack Brown saying they could win the Big 12 after a 1-2 start in non-conference games.

"They've averaged 35 points per game in the last six games, going against defenses like Oklahoma, Kansas State and TCU. Of course in every game they tweak some things because they're good coaches," Spencer added.

"They find things that work. It comes down to the guys up front getting a hat on a hat. The line of scrimmage has been going backward, and the running backs have been falling forward. I haven't seen many negative yardage plays from them in the past few weeks. They create momentum, and they have been moving the ball on people."

Now Oklahoma State has some vibes on their side too. The Cowboys have that potent defense and an offense that has been playing well. Oklahoma State has won five games in a row since the loss at West Virginia.

Also, other than transfer Tyler Patmon from Kansas there is no Oklahoma State player that has played Texas on the road in Austin that has ever lost a game at Darrell K. Royal - Texas Memorial Stadium.

"It was pretty big getting to go out in front of that big crowd and leaving Austin with a victory a couple of years ago," linebacker Caleb Lavey expressed. "It's always a huge accomplishment. It's also a tough environment. They have a lot of fans, and it gets pretty rowdy there. We are going to have to prepare ourselves to take the crowd out of it and prepare for a good opponent."

Relax, coach Spencer. Put that good game plan together but also get a little shut eye this week. After all, Lavey and your defenders have your back.

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