Analysis: Defense Is Ready For Big 12

Defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer was worried this week. It's Spencer's job to be concerned about what his defense has to deal with in going against opposing offenses. Texas-San Antonio presented a lot of eye candy in regards to motion, stems, formations, and some schemes designed to get linebackers and safeties out of their areas, opening real estate that tight ends and running backs could use.

The collection of star linebacker Josh Furman, middle linebacker Ryan Simmons, weak side linebacker Seth Jacobs, and safeties Larry Stephens, Jordan Sterns and Jerel Morrow kept their eyes clear and their decisions solid.

Late in the game Furman stepped into a route and absolutely froze the quarterback. It was a big play in holding UTSA to a field goal on a drive that started at the OSU 31-yard line after a 16-yard punt. In fact, there was a similar possession in the first quarter after a long punt return landed the Roadrunners on the Cowboys 27. Again, just a field goal allowed.

After both series, Spencer was yelling, "Awesome Awesome! Awesome!" at his defenders as they came off the field.

"We just won a great game," Spencer said after the game. "Turnovers weren't there, but the kids just played a hell of a ball game. They got off the field so many times. They did great against the run. They played physically and had a lot of great tackles."

"We played hard and we recognized how important it was to get those stops," defensive tackle Ofa Hautau said. "I know coach Spencer gets excited when we do things like that. It makes us all feel good seeing how he reacts."

Three keys to the defensive performance were the play up front by the line and linebackers in stuffing UTSA's tackle-to-tackle run game. On the perimeter, Ashton Lampkin and Kevin Peterson, the best cover corner in the Big 12, both did a great job of shutting down the passing game. Peterson defended everything that came his way, and UTSA never threw at him after early in the game.

The third key was not allowing UTSA to confuse the defense with all their smoke screens and bait and switch attack.

"I think those guys did a tremendous job with the discipline of their eyes," Spencer said. "I credit those coaches back there, Van Malone and Tim Duffie. I think they did a great job of preparing those guys, and I think the kids bought in.

"We're just a very average team trying to be good. Their tail is on the line every snap, and that's college football these days. If you have a missed assignment back there, you're going to give up big yards. That's just the world they live in, so I was very proud of how the coaches prepared them and how the kids bought in."

The Cowboys allowed a grand total of 206 yards on 64 plays, 3.2-yards per snap, eight three-and-outs, 3-of-17 on third-down attempts, nine tackles for loss, four sacks, and a pick six to end the game. There's just one thing to say: awesome!


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