Tuesday football report

Oklahoma State head coach Les Miles has his team focused and ready for battle. Kyle Field may not be an easy place to play, but the Cowboys have plans to extend their winning streak...

There is no doubt that one of the main strengths of this Oklahoma State squad in winning six- straight games has been the ability to focus on one game at a time. It's an old coaches cliche' but it still works. Head coach Les Miles says this squad has been one of the best that he's been around in that regard, and is convinced that is the reason this team has stayed focused.

"There is leadership on this football team," said head coach Les Miles. "I see the intent and the desire and the focus, for example, Greg Richmond knew exactly what he was going into do in this game. Rashaun Woods was intent on victory in this game, and I believe that this team is becoming even more finely focussed as we enter and continue through the Big 12 season."

This week is probably the biggest test of that focus. The Cowboys have struggled on the road in the Big 12 and they are facing a tough environment at Kyle Field in
College Station, Texas. However, just on the other side of Saturday is the huge hype and build-up of Bedlam week and a potential South Division showdown with No. 1-ranked Oklahoma.

"Right now our focus has got to be on A&M because going down to College Station is going to be a challenge, and right now it is the biggest game of the year for us to be able to do what we need to do for the rest of the season," said tight end Charlie Johnson. "We need to be focused and not worry about what external things, just what we can do as a team to win. It'll be crazy down there."

Defensive end Antonio "Scooby" Smith agreed.


"It's a goal that we all set at the beginning of the season, right after two-a-days," he said. "We set a goal of taking it one game at a time. Don't look forward to the next game or anything like that. I think the team is buying into it and the coaches are really pushing it that this next game is the most important game of the season. That's the way it is every week."

It definitely has to be that way this week, or the Cowboys could wreck all the previous work and wins over Kansas State and Texas Tech in setting up the Bedlam showdown.

Miles Likes the Physical Style

The O-State coaches paused several times during the review of the Texas Tech game video last Sunday to admire the physical play of the Cowboys. Head coach Les Miles said he was almost speechless in looking at the second quarter block that Vernand Morency put on Tech linebacker Fletcher Sessions.

"It was a heckuva hit," Miles understated.

It's physical play like that which Miles demands out of his football team. In order to get that kind of toughness and explosive hitting, the Cowboys have to go the extra miles in practice. While many teams taper off on hitting during the season, the Cowboys don't. They hit on Tuesday and Wednesday. The hit often and they hit hard.

"We do a lot of physical drills in practice, going ones against ones," said tight end Charlie Johnson." "It helps develop a physical aspect to your game, and that's really helped us in running the football, and that in turn helps open up the passing game. It all go goes back to the physical aspect."

Chances are taken when it comes to injuries, but Miles has said they are risks that are worth the reward that comes with the Cowboys' physical play on Saturdays.

Tatum Bell Deserving of Big 12 Honor

Tatum Bell, as you may have heard, won the Big 12 Offensive Player of the Week award for the second time this season. The first came following his first 200-yard game of the season when he rushed for 215 yards against
Wyoming. He topped that total with his 238 yards and three touchdowns, including a 95-yarder, and 28 carries against Texas Tech. Bell is fifth in the NCAA in rushing and leads the Big 12 with 126.48 yards per game and 6.4 yards per carry. Miles was impressed with the effort Bell had against Tech.

"Tatum ran really well," said Les Miles. "He ran well in close quarters. He ran well when it was a contested run. Just before the 95-yarder, he gets hit in the backfield and holds on to the ball and then gets up and goes on the 95-yard touchdown run. That's the kind of tailback we need and that's the kind of tailback Tatum Bell needs to be the rest of the season. He needs to continue to improve, but he is at a spot right now if he does that he will help us with the run."

Charlie Johnson Is "Mr. Touchdown"

Sophomore tight end Charlie Johnson has 12 career catches as a Cowboy and one-third of those grabs have gone for touchdowns. You won't find a receiver around that would turn down that kind of percentage, 33 percent of all your receptions go for touchdowns. To give you an example, Rashaun Woods has 260 career receptions with 36 going for scores. That's approximately one touchdown for every seven receptions. It's a stat that Johnson is proud of. He likes being the go- to guy in the endzone.

"It seems like that lately, but Billy (Bajema) and I are really involved in the blocking schemes," said Johnson smiling. "Anytime you get a chance to catch a touchdown pass it's really nice."

Fellow tight end Billy Bajema seems to catch a lot of passes between the goal lines, but Johnson gets his in the orange of the endzones.

"He kind of teases me a little, 'It seems like you are always open in the endzone,'" said Johnson of his conversations with Bajema.

Johnson is actually a very humble guy, but it's nice to have something to brag about with your position partner.

On Winning Play If They Gave Assists, Coe Would Get One

The Cowboys said following the Texas Tech game that it was important that they made the plays to win the game and didn't just luck out on a Texas Tech missed field goal or an unforced turnover. The Cowboys left the field knowing that the game had been won, and not that Tech had lost it.

"This was a lesson for this football team that somebody had to go on the field and make the plays to win the game, and it was the defense," said head coach Les Miles. "That's the most important lesson learned as to how to win football games."

"That last stand we had was nothing but heart," said defensive lineman Antonio Smith. "Everybody was tired and exhausted and wore out. It just came down to whether we were going to let them take away what we had worked so hard for our season."

Smith is still pumped when he describes how the sack went down on the play prior to Jon Holland's game-clinching interception. He also gives credit where credit is due, as defensive tackle Clay Coe's alert play made it a whole lot easier for Smith.

"It was big," said Smith of that sack he had in the final Tech series. "After that play all I could do was drop to my knees. It was there because Clay Coe had the running back (
Henderson) and he had no option but to take the sack. He couldn't throw it downfield because he would get a lineman downfield call. He was trying to get away. I couldn't quite slam him, but I was determined to get him down. When I looked at the film, I realized that Clay Coe made the biggest play in the game when he grabbed the running back. He gave me a free sack, he was there for me."

The impression of that play and the interception weren't lost on the rest of the squad, in fact, it goes back to Miles' belief in learning the lessons of winning, and if the freshmen can learn by example, then that should help out in the future.

"When we had to step up we did," said freshman linebacker Victor DeGrate. "It shouldn't have gotten to that, but those things happen."

"I think it's a dramatic difference that we went out and made the plays that needed to be made," said Smith. "I think that iff the drive would have lasted longer. I think if that drive had gone longer and they had gotten closer we would have had to fight harder to get focused to stop the next four plays and push them out of field goal range."

Last Trip To A&M Was Strange

The red, white, and blue T-shirt organization organized by the Aggie students was just part of the Cowboys last trip (2001) to
College Station. This week Miles revealed that he had been instructed by U.S. Government security experts in how to evacuate his team from the playing field. He wore a whistle around his neck during the game, the only time he had ever done that, in order to get the attention of the Cowboy players. He also revealed that Aggie head coach R.C. Slocum had told him of a scheduled commercial flight that was held on the ground at DFW International Airport in the Dallas area because it was revealed that it could have been targeted for another incident, perhaps, involving Kyle Field and the game.

"The 9-11 situation really clouds my view," said head coach Les Miles. "The 9-11 situation was really felt more than Kyle Field."

Fortunately, nothing happened, and Miles did not wear a bulletproof vest that was offered to him by security personnel. As for the players, their memory was not quite as grim.

"The other players that have been around awhile have told me about that red, white, and blue day, and that it's really a good atmosphere," said Antonio Smith. "I'm really looking forward to being down there in that kind of atmosphere. I'll prepare for it like any other game."

And, thankfully, this should be a lot more like any other game than the 2001 meeting was in
College Station.

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