Cowboys Defense Needs To Mix It Up

Glenn Spencer's defense is fresher and has more depth entering Saturday's Bedlam showdown than in recent years.

In an interesting move but one that has seemingly had a positive impact toward preparing for Saturday's Bedlam game in Norman for the Big 12 championship, Oklahoma State defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer, on the day after the Cowboys defense nearly shut out TCU with a strong 31-6 showing, pulled his team into the meeting room and instead of reviewing TCU and complimenting his guys on what they had done roughly 24 hours earlier he showed them the first half of last season's Bedlam game.

That contest in Stillwater was also a showdown for the Big 12 championship and OU won 58-23 and staked a 44-20 lead in that first half. The Cowboys defense watched a lot of bad defense and missed tackles. 

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"It's very tough," said one of the viewers in defensive tackle Vincent Taylor. "We watched film after last year and noticed we missed a lot of tackles, but I think we are a better team this year now, and we have done a lot of tackling drills, and we are ready come Saturday."

This Oklahoma State defense is in much better shape to compete and be successful than the defense was a year ago. That group of Cowboys were beat up, they were thinner from a depth standpoint, and they had played several games in a row where the defense was on the field for an average of 88 snaps a game, including two with over 100 snaps to be defended.

This defense has developed more depth at every level, up front all season and more recently at linebacker and in the secondary. It is healthier with the open week being used to really get guys back all the way.

"Gundy switched up the practice schedule for us. He said we would be fresher than we've ever been come Saturday," Taylor said. "I think it will help us out. We had a lot of injuries going into the game last year. A lot of guys were banged up, but this year we are treating our bodies right, and our coaches will have us ready to play."

So what do the Cowboys need to do to stop OU quarterback Baker Mayfield, the running back tandem of Samaje Perine and Joe Mixon, and the sensational "home run" receiver in Dede Westbrook?

Head coach Mike Gundy said that the Cowboys have to mix it up and his defensive coordinator is on the same page. Although, typical Glenn Spencer, he acts like no plan is good enough. With Oklahoma's powerful offense he might be right, but his defense has severely cut down the big plays they had been allowing and they are one of the best defenses in the nation at forcing turnovers. 

"I'm never really comfortable," Spencer said. "I'm always on edge, and I think you have to be. Well, I have to be, and I have to think about all the 'what if's' because I know they're really good coaches. I know coach [Lincoln] Riley does a tremendous job. If you take something away, he's going to figure out pretty quickly something else to come up with. I've got a lot of respect for him as a play caller.

"It's tough," Spencer continued. "They've got great play makers and make good calls. Between their quarterbacks, running backs, tight ends and wide receivers, they lead lead the Big 12 in the top scoring offenses in the nation, so we have to execute what we're doing. There's going to be times when it's one­-on­-one with those great play makers, and our players are going to have to make plays."

The name of the game and the defense that makes the most plays should be the one wearing those hats that say Big 12 Champions on them. 

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