You’ve always heard there is more than one way to skin a cat, but how about stopping the most rabid spread offense in the country. Texas Tech may only be 4-5 and may be working on missing a bowl game again during the Kliff Kingsbury tenure, but the Red Raiders can move the football, they can score a lot of points and they are the dread of every defensive coordinator in the Big 12. There is a sure-fire way to frustrate and drive the Tech offense out of its highly valued rhythm and that is to keep the Red Raiders off the field.
The joke around Lubbock when Kingbury was playing quarterback, Mike Leach was the Texas Tech head coach, and current West Virginia head coach Dana Holgorsen was Leach’s number two in command of the offense was that when another team’s offense was in a long time-consuming drive that Leach would go over to his defensive coordinator and tell him that if he couldn’t stop them to let them score so Leach could get his offense back on the field. Now that wasn’t true, but it sure looked like it was a possibility on a few occasions.
Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy understands and believes it is a viable answer to the Texas Tech attack, but only if your offense, in a speedy tempo process or in a pedestrian running attack, is finishing each drive with points, mostly touchdowns.
"If you can run the ball, use clock and score, then that's good, but if you run clock and don't score, it doesn't work,” Gundy said when asked about playing the slow game with Texas Tech. “That comparison is made a lot. In most cases, it's based on matchups, where we think we have an advantage. I'm sure their plans will be where they think they have an advantage. It's not always easy to predict, but you've just got to see how you get going when you're in the flow of the game."
Offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich was very pleased with 180 yards rushing last week against the top run defense in the Big 12. It is a real sign that the offensive line and the backs, primarily freshman Justice Hill and senior Chris Carson, are improved and really capable of running the ball on any team.
Texas Tech isn’t just any team. They are dead last in stopping the run in the Big 12 allowing 236 yards a game. Oklahoma State hasn’t hit that mark yet this season with the 230 yards at Kansas being the best so far.
"Well, I think we've continued to improve each week. We faced a really good rush defense last week, and we were able to run the ball effectively,” Yurcich said. “I think what we're seeing is balance. Some games we've been able to run the ball to open up the pass. Last week, it was more of the pass opening up the run.
"We're not banging our head against the wall. We're taking what the defense gives us, which is a good thing. The quarterback is doing a great job distributing the football, and the running backs are running tough. I think all those things add up into a better run-game and a better balance of attack. We have to make sure we do it again this week, come out and play tougher and continue to improve."
Carson, who know has 188 yards rushing on the season with an average of 5.9 yards a carry and the best on the team of backs with 20 or more carries, was asked about controlling the game on the ground and he wasn’t sure, but he liked the sound of it.
"It's fun to be out there and see everyone finding success and the team getting victories,” Carson said. “It's definitely a lot of fun when your team is winning. You can't help but enjoy it."
Carson, a senior along with left tackle on offense Victor Salako, right guard Michael Wilson, Cowboy backs Blake Jarwin and Zac Veatch, and receivers Jhajuan Seales and Austin Hays are the prominent seniors on offense. They would all like to have some fun and go out a winner in their last game at Boone Pickens Stadium and with a big effort could help stop that Texas Tech offense just by being on the field and keeping them off of it.