Defense Is Tired And Depleted

Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy hates the way the college football regular season stretches from August to December. OSU has its third bye week of the season this week. But the Cowboys defense needs this bye week to get ready for the Dec. 6 Bedlam game against OU, the team's last chance to get bowl eligible and extend the school-record bowling streak to nine seasons.

There is some hope for the Cowboys with the debut of freshman quarterback Mason Rudolph and some promise of better play on the offense line following Saturday night's loss to seventh-ranked Baylor.

The defense has more than pulled its weight at times this season, but needs to get out of a cycle of giving up early touchdowns and needs to get some reinforcements back to handle the Sooners new running star in battering ram Samaje Perine.

Glenn Spencer is a no-nonsense coach and individual, so he did not duck out and neither did his players following the game in talking to the media about the fifth straight game where early touchdowns helped put the Cowboys in a hole. Last night it was Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty just loosening up his arm for touchdown passes of 65 and 54 yards to Jay Lee and Corey Coleman, respectively, and the same mistake in technique by corners Kevin Peterson on the first long scoring pass and then freshman Ramon Richards on the second.

Both Peterson and Richards were playing man coverage and playing an outside-in technique where they were on the receiver's outside and then with the ball in the air both Peterson and Richards tried to cross and go inside to play the ball. In a vertical route every step by a defender other than stride for stride with the receiver allows for the opportunity of separation.

Both had the ball thrown over the head and allowed the completions and the scores. Knowing for the possibility of pass interference in playing the receiver versus the ball, both corners might have considered staying stride for stride with the receiver and then playing to time it and hit the receiver as the ball reached them. That will amount to a film room critique and Van Malone may correct me or I may be right. My confidence is not as high because the world of corners and wide receivers is one that I've only watched and never participated in.

Baylor racked up 149 passing yards on those first two blitzkrieg style strikes, meaning that the other 14 possessions in the game yielded 430 yards of offense. The Bears did not run the ball on either of those first two scoring drives but they did run a whole bunch in the rain after those two quick touchdowns with a total of 58 carries for 317 yards (an average of 5.5-yards per carry). That is too much and OU will be licking their chops at those numbers because they will run the ball a bunch after seeing Perine carry for an NCAA record 427 yards and five touchdowns versus Kansas yesterday.

Oklahoma State has done a good job on run defense heading into the game with Baylor as teams were averaging 139.5 yards a game and 3.8 yards per carry.

he problem as I see it is a depth-challenged Cowboys defense is banged up and even more challenged.

Safety Tre Flowers went out early Saturday night, and fifth-year senior Larry Stephens came on and made an interception and also had some physical tackles. But now the once-injured Stephens was stuck playing the rest of the game.

"Star" linebacker Josh Furman came out early in the second half with further injury to an arm that was already injured. That left freshman Kirk Tucker to handle that duty the rest of the game. It is apparent now that cornerback Ashton Lampkin is done for the season and a likely medical redshirt.

Then there are players like weak-side linebacker Seth Jacobs and free safety Jordan Sterns that have been banged up some and played straight through. not to mention how many snaps other players such as middle linebacker Ryan Simmons are playing.

The break will help because missed tackles that became even epidemic at times at Kansas State and last night against Baylor's stable of backs will need to be at a minimum against the new NCAA record holder. It will be important to keep OU off the board early and from controlling the game with its running attack and the offense is now in a position to perhaps do something special.

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