Defense Has Confidence Entering Bedlam

Oklahoma State fans looking for a bottom line on Saturday's Bedlam game have a reason for being confident in the Cowboys defense. Recent history would suggest the Cowboys would win by firing passes from the hip, over the top, under a leg, and anywhere else a pass can be fired from. But the Cowboys best bet in defeating the Sooners to win the Big 12 is their defense.

The OSU defense ranks first in the Big 12 in scoring defense (18.8 per game), fifth in total defense (380.4 yards per game), first in rushing defense (130 yards per game), first in pass efficiency defense, first in third down defense (32.7 percent), first in turnover margin (+16), and first in red zone defense.

As Spencer has said all season, the Cowboys stoppers have reset during the open week, stripped themselves mentally of any compliments or satisfaction and made sure they are hungry for what needs to be accomplished this week in Bedlam.

"When you get in a rhythm, things are going good and the schedule changes, coaches don't like that," Spencer said of the extra time to prepare for Bedlam. "Obviously, we have guys who are banged up who will benefit from the rest they have gotten. There's an argument for it being good and bad. Game plan-wise, you feel like you're ahead on a bye week, but is, too. We have the same number of days.

"That's not a challenge at all," Spencer added of staying hungry. "When you look at film, OU has won nine games for a reason. They move the ball on a lot of people, they take pride in running the football and they've done it effectively.

"When we watch the film, it's easy to have a lot of respect for what they do. They have a good offensive line, they have great skill players and they're explosive. They're a physical team."

The added plus of Bedlam for Spencer and the entire Oklahoma State coaching staff is with all these seniors and their wisdom and their intensity they are going to get maximum effort and focus in practice.

"It's a hard-fought game, a battle. Both teams are going to play as hard as they can play," Cowboys safety Dayatawion Lowe, a guy that knows about playing hard, said on Monday. "I feel like both teams are going to give the effort. I think it gives you more of a reason to practice harder.

"There's always a little buzz on campus since it's Oklahoma. Everywhere you go, everyone knows OU and everyone knows OSU. It's a big rivalry game, and that brings a little more emotion to the game."

Emotion is a key for defense, but you also have to be able to channel the emotion into the right place. Channel it into awareness, effort and execution, and not into unimportant aspects that can creep up. Extracurricular activity is possible in an emotional game like this. That is where the maturity of the seven seniors starting on the Cowboys defense has to kick in.

"In my mind, I think I've had a great impact," said senior defensive tackle , who has learned to take his emotion and channel it correctly. The same guy that got two personal foul penalties on one play last season at has been exemplary this season.

"I always feel like I can do more, though. To this day, I know I probably could have done more in my time here, but I think I've done pretty well since I've been here. I still have some work left to do this Saturday," said Barnett.

Barnett does have some work as does the rest of the defense. OU brings to Stillwater an offense that stretched its wheels at and is running the ball well with quarterback , another running quarterback for the Cowboys defense to deal with.

"He has some things he does differently," Spencer added. "They play out of the pistol more with him, and there's more of a veer option element to it, but they still use the power run game, too. Both quarterbacks run the schemes effectively and they can both be thrown in at any moment. We know that. We have to prepare like we will see both of them."

"I think that we've got the personnel to play very well. It's all about executing," Lowe added. "We have to execute all the things we've been working on the past few weeks. We've got to get a good game plan and we have to execute it the way coach Spencer leads us to, and I think we'll be fine if we do that."

Fine means in the locker room accepting a Big 12 Championship trophy for the second time the last three seasons. That truly is fine.

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