Sunday Rewind: Defense Stood Tall

We will start with the positive, and that is the Oklahoma State defense. Once again, playing without cornerback Ashton Lampkin, who did not make the trip, and without safety Larry Stephens, who was suited up and expected to play some but did not, the Oklahoma State defense played well enough to win Saturday against Kansas.

The Jayhawks' early scoring drive that covered 75 yards on nine plays was disappointing with a double move by Nick Harwell allowing him to get separation from young safety Tre Flowers for the big chuck of it (51 yards).

Then in the fourth quarter the Cowboys had to hang on. The defense was left out there to defend 48 plays in the second half, and the offense really had only one sustained drive in the second half and that was the first possession of the third quarter that still ended in a sudden change situation with an interception.

"We were prepared for that. We practiced too much, and we were just ready for that situation," middle linebacker Ryan Simmons said. "It’s a team sport, so it’s not frustrating. Sometimes the offense starts slow, sometimes we start slow, so it’s just a team effort. I think we held our ground, but I think there is still room for improvement."

"We do fine on defense, but they’re out there so much. They get exposed because we’re not very effective on offense," said head coach Mike Gundy.

In the second half, I thought KU did a nice job of finally mixing in tight end Jimmay Mundine, who is a good athlete and a good receiver. Still, the Cowboys defense had a huge stop after the crazy fumble off the arm of Cowboys quarterback Daxx Garman, forcing a field goal that followed a missed field goal on the previous possession.

I was really surprised later when Kansas had the Cowboys on the ropes more than they appeared to at any point in the game and interim Jayhawks head coach Clint Bowen elected to kick the field goal instead of going for it on fourth down-and-less than a yard.

"I was surprised and I was surprised that they kicked it to Tyreek on the kickoff because he is so dangerous," said Gundy, mentioning the kickoff scenario which obviously changed the game.

After the Cowboys re-took the lead on Hill's 99-yard kickoff return, the offense did help out with a short drive that included a first down and then the defense closed it out.

Nobody wants to think you have to win this way, and pinning the hopes of victory against the stout opposition in the Big 12 on your defense and special teams is not the desired way to go. It is the way Oklahoma State is going to appear to have to do it this season, which means every effort has to be made, just as Gundy had anticipated weeks ago.

"There’s times when we’re on defense and I’m looking out there and I count five or six true freshmen on the field at once," Gundy said. "They are getting a little better and have improved but we’re hoping to keep them fresh and healthy and fight through this middle of October run we’ve got going here. These are young players, and we don’t have much depth. We are still missing some guys."

The good news is Lampkin and Stephens should truly be ready to return next week at TCU, and with Devante Averette and Demarcus Sherod fully healthy and ready to go there is more depth at linebacker. They will be needed as it will be all hands on deck starting Saturday at TCU.

One guy that wasn't missing and hasn't been missing all season was defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah. The redshirt sophomore had 10 tackles, nine unassisted, which are huge numbers for a defensive end. He had two more sacks and 5.5 tackles for loss. It was a dominating performance for a defensive end and one where the Kansas quarterback Michael Cunmings will have some Ogbah nightmares.

"I mean, it was really a team effort and my defensive line brothers were able to get him (Cummings) to move out and that is how I was able to make those plays," Ogbah explained.

They'll need to keep making them over and over again for the next six games.

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