1. How much did the Cowboys have to press in order to get Rashaun Woods the Divison I NCAA single game touchdown receptions record?
There is no doubt the game was won by halftime. Miles would have brought the first team offense back for at least a couple of series regardless of the record or not. Miles also wanted the offense to score while they were out there. The logical question from the losing side is why weren't they running the football? Why were they passing when they were up 38-0?
Remember, SMU did score after Woods sixth touchdown catch made the score 45-0. The pressing of the issue came with the play calling. With Woods tying and then breaking the record it was obvious OSU was going his direction. That may be the most amazing aspect of it. SMU knew where the ball was going and still couldn't stop it.
"They assigned extra guys to the rush. It was the exact opposite of Southwest Missouri State as SMU brought people up and was in some sort of run stopping defense. That left one-on-one coverage and we are not going to turn that down."
"We knew that if we executed we would have a good night," said Woods. "There is no way I could imagine that we would click like that. A lot of credit has to go to the whole offense."
It was also a welcomed experience. Fans had wondered everything from whether Josh Fields was injured to problems in the offensive line with pass protection to whether the receivers opposite Rashaun Woods could be respected enough to open things up for him. There was no need to panic, the Cowboys didn't.
"We've been practicing all week and have had much better practices this week," said Fields, who seemed to be taking the most blame for the lack of success passing. "Last night the offensive line, Rashaun, and myself we were talking about how we felt we were going to have a good game because our offense has picked up in practice and we've been having more success against our own defense. When you have success against our defense that's a pretty good sign that you'll have success against any defense."
2. Other than Fields to Woods what was the most important play of the game?
It was the first touch for SMU. Struggling quarterback Richard Bartel dropped back to pass on the Mustangs first offensive play. Under pressure he rifled it out to the right side only to have Darrent Williams tip the ball up and then come down with it and returned it to the SMU 4-yard line.
Williams turnover set OSU up for that early score. It was a huge play. "Our coaches had us working on that a lot," said Williams of the play he was defending. "They go quicks to the boundary a lot, coach had me working on that. We had a blitz call, and I know with a blitz the ball was either going to come out fast or we were going to get a sack. I anticipated the quick and he threw it right to me. I had to tip it up with the one hand and then catch it. I also thought I scored, if this had been the NFL I would have coach Miles throw his red flag (for a review of the play by replay).
The offense actually sets up the defense and vice versa. Don't forget special teams as they had an excellent night. It all feeds off each other. "You feed off everything. When you're on defense and you go sit down and they score it's great," said linebacker Paul Duren. "It's when they don't score then we get testy."
3. How good is the Oklahoma State defense?
It's pretty good right now, but let's remember what portion of the schedule you're talking about. SMU presented no overall challenge. The Ponies proved they couldn't throw, so all the O-State defenders had to do was stop the run. That's something they have been working on each week, really the last two weeks and had improved on a lot.
"They struggled throwing the ball today," said linebacker Paul Duren. "That surprised us a little bit because we thought their quarterback had a pretty good arm. Their wide receivers had been dropping the ball, but he didn't have a very good game today. We had to come out and key on the run and that what we did."
There is no doubt the secondary is improved. I'll predict that even in Big 12 play they will be much better against passing teams. That includes Texas Tech. The linebackers are solid with Duren, Lawrence Pinson, Pagitte McGee, and the freshman Victor DeGrate in the rotation. Defensive coordinator Bill Clay is even letting them blitz more and more. "We beg him to call more blitzes," added Duren. "We're always wanting to knock them out. He ran a lot of blitzes tonight and that's what we did, knock them out."
The defensive line is starting to narrow down. Clay Coe is playing at a very high level. Kyle Hix and Mike Williams are the two others that have played there extensively. Check that as that was extensive and valuable playing time that saw Brad Girtman and Xavier Lawson-Kennedy make several plays. I predict that by the time we get into Big 12 play that those two freshman will play a lot.
Already playing a lot is defensive end Marque Fountain who has joined veterans like Greg Richmond and Antonio and Kareem Smith. They may not lead the conference in total defense, but they will be making opposing teams remember their names.
4. Is Donovan Woods ever going to play and which young players are advancing the fastest?
It would appear now that Donovan
Woods is not going to play and that will work itself out. This week will be an
excellent week to work the young quarterback and let him learn more of the
offense. I still believe Les Miles
wanted to play the talented youngster, but his staff may have talked him out of it. Let's start with XLK, Brad Girtman, and Fountain as all three are making rapid progress, so is linebacker Victor DeGrate. Those are the main ones although deserving a mention is wide receiver Tommy Devereaux, by force due to Billy Bajema's availability, so is tight end Tremaine Standberry.
5. What will the Cowboys focus on during the open week?
My guess is they will work on some
Kansas State, just working against their schedule. You will also work on
Louisiana-Lafayette. In specific areas the Cowboys must work with the younger
receivers to find something to do. Expect the offensive line and running backs
to get a good dose of work. Special teams still gave up too much return yardage
and Joe Deforast will look forward to that. The defense will work overall in
every area, but passing might really help. They played really well and it is
much easier to coach off of a win than off of a loss.