Boy, it's nice to be looking forward to a huge football game. Not just a game that will go toward determining a winning record and possible bowl invitation, but a game that figures in to deciding the Big 12 South champion and a spot in the Big 12 Championship Game. Saturday's winner between the Cowboys and Texas Tech will put the winner in a prime spot in the standings to challenge top-ranked and defending Big 12 titlest Oklahoma for the South honor.
The last time Oklahoma State was in a position to play for a championship was the 1997 season. After a red hot start, the Cowboys stood at 2-0 in the conference and were ranked 12th in the country when they lost to upstart Missouri, 51-50, in double overtime. The next week the Cowboys went to College Station, Texas as the 19th ranked team in the country and the Aggies were ranked 20th. It was a night game on Fox Sports Southwest. Offensive Coordinator Les Miles opened the game with a called deep pass from Tony Lindsay to current Chicago Bears cornerback R.W. McQuarters. That led to a quick score and the Cowboys bolted out to a healthy lead.
The Aggies staged a furious fourth quarter comeback to send the game into overtime and in the overtime period edged the Cowboys 28-25. That game cost the Cowboys the Big 12 South title and an earlier trip to San Antonio for the Big 12 Championship Game.
Now the Cowboys are in that
position again, if they can solve the Texas Tech offense and slow it down enough
to outscore the Red Raiders. Thier postseason future is totally in their hands
as they play Texas A&M, Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas, and Baylor. If they could
run the table then it's "Kansas City, here we come."
These kinds of opportunities have only come around on a few select occasions for Oklahoma State, and it should come around more often in the future. It would be really nice to take advantage of this one.
How Do You Stop Tech?
There are a lot of coaches that have asked themselves that same question. Tech opponents have thrown out more junk defenses in trying to stop Mike Leach's offense, but junk is not the way to go. O-State defensive coordinator Bill clay said that the key is sticking with your defensive system and doing it the best you can. Clay says he intends to stay the course with the 4-2-5, naturally with some adjustments. Clay has faced this defense twice, but he agrees with Cowboy head coach Les Miles that current Tech quarterback B.J. Symons is even better than previous Red Raider signal caller Kliff Kingsbury.
"One guy is really good and one guy is really, really good," said Miles when asked to compare current record setting Texas Tech quarterback B.J. Symons with past record setter Kliff Kingsbury. "I think the system is tremendous. I think he is a stronger, more physical guy. I think he makes a stronger, deeper throw. I think he makes a faster throw."
Clay added that he feels better about his players in the secondary than he ever has going up against Tech. Their fundamentals and the ability to make the right choices and be disciplined in staying with their coverage will be the most important factor in slowing down the Tech passing game. Being especially good in the red zone when the boundaries help you out will also be important. There is no doubt the players in the secondary are eager for the challenge.
"It's a big challenge for us, but we want to be known as one of the best secondaries to ever come through here at OSU so we have to look forward to a challenge like this," said Darrent Williams. "You want to see if all the work you put in is going to pay off. You have to be on your toes the whole game and play your fundamentals. You have to know when to jump the ball, when to knock it away and when to make the tackle. They will test all your skills."
"I think anybody that plays
Texas Tech knows what they are up against," said Miles. "I think our secondary,
our football team is looking forward to Saturday."
Offensive Line Could Be The Key
Another way to slow down
Texas Tech is by controlling the game with your offense. The Cowboys have the
ability to grind out time consuming drives, but at the sametime also have the
characteristics of a big-play offense.
"Our execution can make the difference, we're going to call runs and passes, but we have to execute," said head coach Les Miles. "We have to stay on the field to keep our defense off the field. Running the fooball when it is appropriate is what we will look to do."
The Cowboy offensive line has proven to be a very good crew at blocking for the run and Texas Tech is 109th in the nation in total defense and 75th in rushing defense. Cowboy fullback Shawn Willis understands that the offense can really help the defense on Saturday.
"I watched film already for an hour today, so I'm getting ready," said Willis of Texas Tech. "I feel if we can get in there and rush and get first downs and keep those long sustaining drives, and that will help our defense a lot. I really see us driving the ball as a big key."
Willis Steps Up At Fullback
Shawn Willis spent last season as a man without a position. The big, strong, physically talented native of Flatonia, Texas was a tailback in high school but was switched to defensive end. Now he understands that he is getting better and better with each game at fullback.
"I think I am, and I'm maturing, said Willis. "But I can't take all the credit because a lot of guys have been helping me along. If I didn't have all that help I wouldn't be doing as well as I'm doing. I was pretty sad last year because I expected to find a spot for me on offense or defense, but last year didn't work out, and that's why when we got back from Christmas break I went and talked to Coach Miles and asked to be moved back to offense. Now it's working out really well."
The Cowboy fullbacks don't carry the ball much, but Willis has become a good receiver out of the backfield and has really grown to appreciate his number one job at fullback, blocking. The Oklahoma State crowd last Saturday in the win over Kansas State appreciated it as well when he blew up K-State linebacker Josh Buhl on an iso play that went for a big gain.
"That's like running back
and coming from deep in the endzone and taking to the house," said Willis. "That
block was so unexpected, he (Josh Buhl) came up there high and coach and them
called that play. I'm glad they called that play. He (Buhl) had been talking the
whole game. He just came up there and you saw the results. It felt
The Cowboys' game with Texas Tech is on ABC with regional coverage. It is the seventh time that ABC cameras have come to Stillwater. In those previous six games, the Cowboys are 3-3, the last time being 1983 when OSU beat Tulsa 9-0. The ABC broadcast team will be headed by play-by-play announcer Tim Brandt.
Oklahoma State is in
contention for ABC coverage on October 25th as well. The network has evoked
another six-day window as they are considering the Cowboys game at Texas A&M
along with Oklahoma at Colorado and Texas Tech at Missouri. The game time
for the OSU-A&M game won't be known until next Saturday or
Williams Takes DMN Honor, Ready For Big Game With Tech
The Big 12 did not see fit to honor Darrent Williams again this week, but The Dallas Morning News named Williams its Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week for his two interceptions and one returned for a touchdown in the win over Kansas State. Les Miles sees Williams as being one of the more important performers on this team right now.
"We count on him to make those kind of plays, whether it's a punt return or an interception, we expect him to make those plays and get it into the endzone," said Miles. "He is a key, and we count on him for that style of play."
The Dallas Morning News also set the tone for the importance of Saturday's game with Texas Tech as it ranked the Big 12 teams each week. This week behind Oklahoma at the top, it ranked O-State second and Texas Tech third. Williams was happy about his honor, but more concerned about the game between numbers two and three in the league.
"I felt really good about
the game on Saturday," said Williams. "I don't really care about any honors, but
they are nice. I'm already thinking about Texas Tech now. One of my good friends
from back at home in Fort Worth is Carlos Francis. He's one of their wide
receivers, and I want our secondary to be ready to show everybody that we are
ready for this challenge, playing the top passing offense in the
Home Sweet Home
There are about 2,000 tickets left for Saturday's homecoming game with Texas Tech. The crowd was an important factor in the win over Kansas State, and Les Miles counting on more of the same this Saturday.
"I can't imagine that there will be anybody sitting at home if they can get a ticket," said Miles. "It's going to be a great game. I have always enjoyed coaching here when it's a packed house and everybody has orange on. I think our guys feed off that environment."
There is no doubt this game is going to be a thriller. The Cowboy head coach prefers an nice, easy victory, but looks forward to a dogfight.
"I like those games where we're ahead, and it's a nice day at the office, not necessarily the ones that are decided late, although I would anticipate this being a very competitive game. You won't feel real comfortable against this team until you are in victory formation and the clock is ticking off. This team can manufacture scores and use the clock to it's advantage."
Wide receivers coach Todd
Monken had a pretty good analogy."This game won't be like a PGA Tournament where
you can look at the leaderboard," said Monken. "This one you want to ignore the
leaderboard or scoreboard and then look up at the end and hope your score is
better than theirs."
Recruiting News: Aiming At Some Big Names
According to Adrian Peterson, the number one tailback in the, country Oklahoma State isn't at the top of his list, but it is in the running. Peterson said Oklahoma leads, and he was impressed when he attended the OU-Texas game in Dallas as a guest of Texas.
"I really liked my trip to UCLA, but I am going to take my visits and wait before I make an decision," said Peterson, who admitted he really liked the girl (Monica) that showed him around on his visit to UCLA. "I may go visit USC, and I am still looking at Texas, A&M, and Oklahoma State, but Oklahoma is my solid leader."
The Cowboys are also in on
a bunch of talented defensive linemen scattered throughout the southeast.
Defensive line coach Karl Dunbar has been given the go from Les Miles to go
after some of the best defensive linemen in the nation. Dunbar went to
Greensboro, NC, over the off week to pursue Demario Pressley of Dudley High
School in Greensboro. Pressley is 6-4, 290 and runs a 4.8 in the forty. As a
junior he had 97 tackles and 14 sacks. Apparently, Pressley is interested.
Others on Dunbar's list of top defensive linemen include Nader Abdullah of
Archbishop Rummel in Metairie, La., and Tyson Jackson of West St. John in
Edgard, La. The Coboys also have a presence in Tennessee as running backs
coach Larry Porter is recruiting running back Joseph Doss and wide receivers
Carlos Armour and Corey Kizer of Melrose High School in Memphis. Recruiting
coordinator Josh Henson went to Brentwood to check out Brentwood Academy tailbck