Captain, my captain

The Cowboys' top defensive dog talks about K-State, the injuries to teammates Elbert Craig and Lawrence Pinson, and how important it is for the freshmen to step up for the remainder of the season...

After Kansas State pounded Oklahoma State last year in Manhattan 44-9, the Cowboys are not only looking for their first conference win, but a little revenge.


"This K-State game will be real big for us because last year we didn't play real good against them. We know our coaches are going to put is in a great coaching scheme so we can play against them and be in a position to make plays on Saturday.

"It was one of them days where we just didn't come ready to play, and they did what they were supposed to do. They capitalized on everything that we did wrong, and that's the sign of the team that they have down in Manhattan."


An important aspect of the Cowboys' defensive plans is to force Roberson to stay in the pocket and throw the football. In only four games, Roberson already has rushed the ball for 338 yards and six touchdowns.


"We want to make them throw the ball so that we can have the opportunity to rush the passer, to get up the field and try to contain Ell Roberson as much as we can. He's a great runner as well as a passer, so we just look forward to this big test that we have on Saturday."

"It's a lot of responsibility because everything is won or lost in the trenches, and we just try to do what we can to contain him. And when we have the opportunity to make plays and get off the field so that our offense can get on, we've just gotta make ‘em.

"We just want to play football, just get up the field in our pass rush lanes and just contain him.

"He has a nice arm, and if you watch him on film, he throws nice balls. He's not a guy that you easily read. He's a great athlete."


The Wildcats' other offensive threat, running back Darren Sproles, has been a tough guy to bring down this year. He has gained 682 yards on the ground and seven touchdowns already. He averages over six yards per carry.


"Sproles, he's an excellent runner. He's a guy that just gets lost in the pile and before you know it, he's 20 or 30 yards down the field. He's a guy we're just gonna have to break down on and just gang tackle. (We) Take pride in runnin to the ball, which coach (Bill) Clay demands every week and every day at practice.

"We haven't seen anybody at his caliber of athleticism this year. He's a man-child. He's 5' 7," 190 pounds or whatever, with 4.4 speed. He's a terrific athlete and we've got a big challenge for us this Saturday when we play against him."


Unfortunately, OSU has lost two important defenders, forcing a few young players (Jamar Ransom, Victor DeGrate and Freddie Sinclair) to fill those vacancies sooner than expected.


"We lost two big key guys on our team: Elbert Craig for the secondary and Lawrence Pinson for the linebacker corps. But we have some great young guys that's just chompin at the bit and just waiting for the opportunity to play.

"We hate the opportunity that they have, of why they're playin because of guys getting hurt, but it's just what they signed up with Oklahoma State for, to come play football. I don't have a problem with playing with different guys on the field. We know that we have great depth, and we continue to move on."


Freshman Victor DeGrate brings an emotional and exuberant attitude to the linebacker corps that the rest of the defense can feed on.


"He brings excitement out there because every time he makes a play, he just shows great emotion. And I like that, and I feed off that, too because I like to show emotion when I make plays. I just like being with him out there on the field. I just think he's a great competitor. He's got a lot to learn. But I think in a year he will grow to be a mature linebacker in the Big 12."


OSU's offensive line has become one of the deepest in the Big 12, with several bench players able to come in and continue solid rush and pass blocking. One of those guys is freshman Corey Hilliard.


"Corey is a great athlete. He's one of those guys that has great feet, and he knows how to use his hands real well. So, he's a great picture for us defensive ends in practice. Seeing a guy that has great feet and also that can recover when you do a move to beat him, it's great for us playing defensive ends, for me, Khreem (Smith), Scooby (Antonio Smith) Jerry Don (Bray) and Trumain Carroll, and Marque Fountain and all of us. He's a good picture for us.

"We try to beat up on him as much as possible to let him know what kind of competition he's gonna see in the Big 12."



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