Oklahoma State's defense rose to the occasion in second half

OSU's defense only allowed Kansas State 121 yards and six first downs in the second half in Saturday's 36-34 victory over the Wildcats.

We've been doing this several ways and I think I've decided on this that after flooding you with videos on Saturday night we will come back with the more extensive written reviews which come after looking at about two and a half hours of game tape on Sunday. We'll break up the reviews into offense, defense, special teams, and special. Special is a certain angle or particular play that has a huge impact on the game.

Defensively, the Oklahoma State Cowboys struggled with the quarterback run game just as defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer had feared. When Kansas State starter Joe Hubener went out on the violent hit from safety Tre Flowers and wide receiver Kody Cook came in that made it more effective as Cook is a much more explosive athlete and runner and I found out he had extensive snaps during the open week and week preparing for Oklahoma State, so Cook wasn't as green as many of us had hoped he would be when he had to come in.

The defensive line seemed to walk on egg shells in pursuing the quarterback and their patience promoted his patience in find a run lane and the more time, the more opportunity in that case. 

"We got out-executed in the first half," defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer said. "We were in man coverage and didn't make a play on the ball. We missed a couple assignments in the run game, but that's all execution. They were executing better than we were."

In the end, the halftime adjustments were huge in both technique and some blitz opportunities that led to more pressure and more sacks. The Cowboys had the six sacks for 40 yards in losses and defended the run reasonably well  with running back Juston Silmon averaging only 3.3 yards on 15 carries.

Emmanuel Ogbah had a strong day and several times beat equally talented and fellow high NFL Draft prospect in K-State offensive tackle Cody Whitehair. Afterwards Whitehair said Ogbah is really good, maybe the best in the league and a tough defensive end to block. 

The linebackers seemed to play well with just a few missed tackles. Backups Chad Whitener, who filled in for Ryan Simmons (knee sprain) in the middle, and Devante Averette, who plays a lot, both had big plays.

One of the best technique plays of the game came in the second half when weak side linebacker Seth Jacobs stood up blocker and KSU fullback Glen Gronkowski and then moved on to quarterback Kody Cook getting the sack because Cook was hoping to hit Gronkowski on a pop pass but Jacobs upset the timing and the spacing of the play.

This had to be Jordan Burton's best game at star linebacker as he had four tackles, but that included a sack and two tackles for loss. 

The secondary struggled with Kansas State receivers and especially on third down as the Wildcats converted on 4-of-11 third downs but had help with five pass interference or defensive holding penalties in the secondary and four of the five were in my opinion very legitimate calls. Ashton Lampkin was called on the first drive and it came on a third-and-10 situation. It was a good call.

Flowers was called for one on the second Wildcat possession on a second-and-12 play and it was a good call. On the first play of the last series of the half, Michael Hunter Jr. was flagged for pass interference and it sure looked suspect to me. Jerel Morrow was nailed, and rightfully so, for holding on a third-and-four situation in the fourth quarter. Then finally Hunter was flagged and was much guiltier than previously on the fourth quarter drive that resulted in a go-ahead touchdown for K-State. 

That's five on the secondary and that is too many. 

There was some really good play in the secondary as Hunter had the interception to seal it at the end. Kevin Peterson was again stellar in one-on-one situation in space on the perimeter and also covered the tight on a sneaky misdirection play in the end zone. Also, Jordan Sterns and Flowers were both active on making important tackles all over the field. 

The secondary did not get beat on a double pass this week but the old nemesis, the wheel route, showed up in the fourth quarter and launched a scoring drive that put K-State in front before the Cowboys drove for the win.

For the second week in a row the Cowboys defense owned a second half. This time after surrendering 28 points and 230 yards the first half, while Kansas State only mustered 121 yards and six points in the second half.

The halftime adjustment included a lot of technique issues and some additional blitz opportunities to read and take advantage off. It is done in a classroom-type setting with Spencer and his staff having filled a dry erase board with the material and the defense sitting in chairs like a classroom sitting there and absorbing it.

"It wasn't major," Spencer detailed. "It was just 'You've got to do this. You've got to execute.' It's all about matchups. Every week it's different. Every week it's about the matchup and they know how to operate that offense, and if you're not perfect in some areas, they out-execute you and it's over. When you execute and play perfect, you've got a chance." 

"We made some adjustments. We changed some techniques based on certain areas of the running game and certain formations," head coach Mike Gundy said in admiring the defense's work. "Kansas State has always had success with showing the run and then dumping the ball over the middle so we defended that really well. We might have defended it too well early on, and that might have cost us some. We just tried to loosen it up a little bit and try to play more base in certain areas. We made some really good adjustments, and I was really proud of our guys. When it was happening, I wasn't sure exactly how it would work but it obviously worked pretty well."

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