"We had, I think, 12 tackles for loss, five sacks and two hurries, so that's the most negative yardage plays in one game that we've had since I've been here," Spencer told reporters on Monday. "That was a positive.
"(The) effort is tremendous. Guys are really playing hard. That's another great positive. We were really good on third down again. I think we were 71 percent."
Third downs were a huge concern in the off-season and one that Spencer was soliciting help for with the fans as in creating a frenzy of noise and distraction for opposing teams on third downs in Boone Pickens Stadium. The Cowboys have stopped opposing offenses on 20-of-28 third-down situations. That is 29 percent for the offense.
Spencer said he is working hard in coaching this younger group but the care factor that exists with his defensive players makes it a little easier. As long as they care, and care deeply about their performance, then he can work with it.
"Negatives are a lot of issues that are going to get taken care of with experience and better coaching," Spencer continued. "We'll get both of those done. Experience is going to happen because it's time and it's inevitable. And the coaching, we'll get those guys coached up better."
Spencer also has a unique situation with the UTSA game coming up compared to his situation last season. Last year he faced the Roadrunners offense with a defense that was experienced as any he'd ever coached.
Now, UTSA is lining up on offense with a bevy of three-year starters and seniors. It makes a dramatic difference and one that can't be overcome in a week of practice. Effort and enthusiasm, Gundy's favorites "attitude and body language" will all come into play. A little extra video study this week wouldn't hurt at all.
"They give anybody a lot of issues," Spencer said of the UTSA offense with experience and talent, "Schematically, we've got a lot of respect for those coaches and what they get out of those kids. I think that's an advantage of having senior players that you've seen progress over the last three years, what they've done, what their scheme is, a lot of shifts and motions.
"A lot of times that will mess up an offense just as much as their defense, but they're experienced and they've done it enough. They do a great job of getting on the perimeter, getting you out-leveraged and getting you on the ground. Their perimeter blockers are the best that we'll face this year. It's a well-designed, well-executed offense."
Some of the younger Oklahoma State players might recognize it from the late third and fourth quarter from a year ago. UTSA put up 28 points in the fourth quarter as the Cowboys defense was manned by many reserves like Jordan Sterns and Deric Robertson at safeties, Ashton Lampkin at corner, and some of the younger defensive ends up front. They should all plan on having much more success against that offense with a different quarterback being virtually the only change going into Saturday.