Analysis: Cowboys Defense Has Guts

Honestly, I felt that the defense played okay in the win over Texas Tech. Now the numbers may say something different to most of you. Texas Tech had 506 total yards. The Red Raiders had 32 first downs, that’s right 32 first downs! There were only 112 rushing yards but 394 yards through the air, and there were four runs of 10 yards or more and at least 12 passes of 15 yards or more.

It all started with a 10-play, 3:45 time of possession, touchdown scoring drive right out of the gate. Tech did the right thing when they won the toss and chose to receive.

“Did I want it to happen? No. Was I disappointed? Yes. I wanted to get off the field,” defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer said after the game. “They have good offensive players. They move the ball well on a lot of people. They scored some points and moved the ball.

"Am I pleased? No. I'm upset with that. The thing we didn't do is panic. I've told everybody that we're an average group just trying to get good, so to make us something we're not is ridiculous. I try to tell them that. We've got a great teaching tape and a tremendous win to get better. I don't think the effort was bad at all .We were chasing them down, but we've just got to teach them some better technique.”

“You know, give credit to Texas Tech,” weak side linebacker Seth Jacobs said after the game. “They were very talented on offense, and they made us stay out there for a lot of plays. I'm proud of the defense, especially with the way that we rallied. There were some tough times and some ups-and-downs throughout the game, but we gave them pressure, got sacks and produced a good all-around win.”

The best part of the defense that I will stand by and claim did a decent job was they still made plays that made a difference in the outcome. Kevin Peterson got an early interception and made a lot of plays against the pass happy Texas Tech offense. Safety Larry Stephens broke up a pass on a fourth down play early when Tech was being a little confident and that allowed the Cowboys to keep it a one score game.

Freshman Ramon Richards came in for cornerback Ashton Lampkin when he sprained his ankle and Richards picked off a pass and then played with confidence, not always good, but played with aggressive confidence. In the end it was linebacker Seth Jacobs that picked the most interesting pass of the day, a ball tipped several times before Jacobs had it virtually come to him.

“I was just in the right place at the right time,” Jacobs explained. “The corner made a good hit and made the quarterback throw up a desperation play so the ball just kind of fell in my lap. I was just there at the right time.”

The defense played with strong effort in the face of exhaustion. By the end of the game there were several defenders really gassed and several had tossed their pre-game meal, halftime Gatorade bar, or both behind the bench. Tech snapped the ball 44 plays in the first quarter, 61 by halftime, and 91 for the game.

Just before half I flashed a note I had taken to Spencer on the number of plays Texas Tech had run. Spencer was wanting no part of it, but would later say he was sorry for brushing it off. He was not sorry about asking his defense to answer the challenge.

“I told them at half that it doesn't matter,” Spencer said. “That's what we do. That's what we train for. We've chosen to play a lot of football games over the last couple of years playing the way we play.

"When you sign up to play defense here, you've got to embrace that role, and you've got to be proud of your work after the day. You're going to be tested. You're going to be strained. You're going to be stressed. We use that as a battle cry to play tough, and play 90 snaps tough. We want that 90th play to be the same as their first play with their effort and their eyes, discipline and toughness. I want to look at that on film and see if we were doing that at the end.”

The motto for Dodge Ram trucks is “guts, glory, Ram.” Okay, try this one, guts, glory, Cowboys defense. Lately, I believe it has been deserved. I still think this defense will hold up well in Big 12 play and is good enough to win a lot of games.

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