From The Coordinator: Spencer Has A Plan

One of the first questions during Mike Gundy's news conference was about sophomore safety Jordan Sterns. The Cowboys young free safety did something few Oklahoma State defenders have done when he registered 20 tackles, the fifth highest tackling total by an individual Cowboy in program history. There were 14 unassisted tackles and six assisted stops and Sterns made an assist on a tackle for loss.

"He played well. Too many tackles for a safety, though," the head coach said." We're aware of that. He's playing a lot of plays during the games. He's playing over 70 plays in games when he should be playing about 50, but he's playing very well.

"He's physical, and he's a guy that we need to try and protect as much as possible when he's making a number of plays for us during the game."

As Gundy said it was just too many because Sterns had to play too many plays but also because you don't want a safety, even an ultra aggressive one like Sterns, making that many stops.

The safeties and corners combined for 31 tackles out of the defensive total of 73. The linebackers had 20, and the defensive line had 23. Ideally, you would like to see the linebackers account for the most or at least be even with the secondary.

The culprit in a lot of cases were missed tackles. Those two drives West Virginia had that combined to eat up 12-plus minutes of the third quarter were kept alive by a number of third-down conversions courtesy of missed tackles. In the old days that would lead to a long period full of tackling drills on Tuesday, but not anymore.

However, defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer has a plan, a plan he has used with success to deal with it.

"A missed tackle can create a big play anywhere," Spencer said. "The first-and-10 at the one that started that series and we send a corner blitz and if Jordan Sterns doesn't make that tackle and tackle him on the two then that is going 99 yards. We don't say what a great tackle for Jordan and it's second down because on that third-and-19 we didn't get it done.

"On a missed tackle something bad usually happens, and we did get the ball back on that drive but not until they had burned off that clock time and punted it and I wanted our offense to have a short field.

"You watch it on film and you see if they brought their hips with them," Spencer said getting into the corrections. "You coach them and you see if they left their feet or ducked their head and then you look around on film and see where the other guy was where we could have got him on the ground when we had a chance.

"Every defense in the nation you look on that film the next day there are going to be missed tackles. Nobody in college football has ever had a perfect tackling game. We practice and if we miss a tackle on our scout team then we immediately do up-downs. It is a constant reminder. I'm going to be consistent and every week and we have been demanding about tackling all year."

Spencer has been consistent and his defense doesn't generally repeat mistakes. I'd be willing to bet there won't be many missed tackles this week.

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