November 3, 2003
Oklahoma State fans have a choice, I realized that I had a choice a few years ago. You can listen to the vocal and obnoxious Sooner fans, most of whom don't hold a college degree, or you can ignore them. The goal of those Sooner fans is to rub in last Saturday's 52-9 win and make you feel like your team and you are worthless pond scum. The correct attitude is to congratulate the Sooner for the fine team that they are, wish them the best because it does appear that they are about to win another National Championship, and then settle back in and help this O-State team come back from that loss in Norman to get a win over Texas and secure a New Year's Day or more precisely a New Year's Day after bowl. The last time that Oklahoma State played in a traditional New Year's Day bowl game was 1946 in the Sugar Bowl against St. Mary's of California.
A win over Texas on Saturday and the Cowboys will have an outside shot at the Fiesta Bowl (they say they are interested) and the inside track on the Cotton Bowl. The Dallas Morning News made early bowl projections on Monday and listed the Cowboys in the Cotton against Ole Miss. I'd like to see that matchup for a couple of reasons. I got to know the Manning family and would love seeing Archie again and I also know the Rebels head coach David Cutcliffe, a former assistant at Tennessee.
Before all that Les Miles has one of his toughest challenges as head coach. The Cowboys have to pull their heads out of mourning over the loss to OU and get back on track preparing for Texas. It won't be easy. The loss to OU hurt, but Miles and his staff are pretty good on positive reinforcement and they will need plenty of it this week. If Miles pulls this off it will mean that OSU went through that rugged five game stretch in the schedule that started with K-State and ends with Texas with a 4-1 record. That in itself has to be considered an accomplishment, at least it is in my book.
Upon Further Review
Going back and reviewing and grading the film of the loss to Oklahoma wasn't quite like watching "Friday the 13th" according to Les Miles. Some fans may find it hard to believe, but there were some good performances in the loss and the effort was good, the mistakes were not.
"It looked like it did on Saturday, but it's never as bad as you think when you lose and it's never as good as you think when you win," said head coach Les Miles. "They (Oklahoma) are a darned good football team, and we went into a hostile stadium where we should have been comfortable and didn't react to it real well. This is the kind of thing that happens when you don't do the things you need to. We went in there with the idea that we would execute and do the things we wanted to and put the ball in their court. We never did. They had a positive start thanks to our mistakes on offense and special teams. Playing that way there was no way OSU was going to win that game."
The game would have had to start different for Oklahoma State to be in it. Miles said that if they had gained a first down on the first possession that maybe Oklahoma State could have driven the ball and put points on the board and put some pressure on Oklahoma. The Sooners were able to front run the entire game. Miles wouldn't say it, but the Cowboys really should have had a first down. Woods second down catch and Bell's third down run both looked like they were good for a first down, but were spotted behind the marker. No sour grapes here, it wouldn't have made a difference, but what was the Big 12's sixth or seventh officiating team doing working this game instead of one of the top crews such as Hal Dowden, John Laurie, Randy Chrystal, of Jon Bible's crew. I'd sure like to ask the Big 12 Commissioner about that.
Offensive Line Bashing Not Totally Deserved
Oklahoma State fans are always worried about the offensive line holding up and several said as much going into the game with Oklahoma. The first sack was not a bust by offensive left tackle Doug Koenig as many may have thought. Tatum Bell was supposed to come out and take the rush off the left edge, but did not. Dan Cody got almost a completely clean shot at Josh Fields in forcing the fumble.
"The back was supposed to block off the end," said Miles of that first sack. "Koenig (left tackle) did what he was supposed to do. The back was supposed to block the end and then he also didn't fall on the ball."
Miles went on to say that in review of the game several of the O-linemen played pretty well.
"Sam Mayes and Corey Hilliard, Hilliard is going to be a gem," said Miles. "He played very well for a freshman in that environment. Shawn Willis played well. He had a good game and Ben Buie played well."
This offensive line is really pretty good, and the Cowboys wouldn't be 7-2 if they weren't.
Changing Goals And Bouncing Back
Losing to Oklahoma wasn't the worst aspect of the loss on Saturday. While some fans get zoned into needing to beat Oklahoma, it was the bigger prize at stake, a goal the Cowboys had set back before the start of the season and having it slip away that hurt the most.
"The opportunity to take the lead in the South was a tremendous opportunity for this team, but now we have to replace goals because getting this one back would call for something difficutl to predict to happen.," said Miles. We have to move on and look at bowl opportunities to play and win a bowl championship."
This is where Miles and the coaching staff have their biggest chore this week in getting the players focused on other goals, like a 10-2 regular season, which has never been done before at Oklahoma State and a New Year's Day bowl game. A win over Texas is a must to secure both those objectives.
"Absolutely, we have to play from where we are at today," said Miles. "Worry about what we are in control of and not what we are not in control of. Just pick it up where we're at and win Saturday against Texas."
Miles got his first idea of how hard or easy that might be when he met with the team on Sunday night. The head coach feels that the players will bounce back, but they weren't quite ready to divest themselves from it all last night.
"This football team really invested themselves," said Miles. "There is a cost to sincere effort, and they gave sincere effort. It did not turn out the way we would have liked, but getting over it was Sunday night. Now Tuesday it is all Texas. This football team has character and they will get ready for Texas."
Players do seem to be resillient, and they will need to be.
"It's the 48 hour rule, you have two days to get it out of your system and then it's get ready for the next game," said defensive end Khreem Smith. "It's a business thing that we have to do."
"We're going to use that feeling (from the OU loss) as fuel," said wide receiver D'Juan Woods. "We're going to let that build up and come out with a enraged, ready to get out there and play."
"It's just like a girlfriend you get another one and you forget all about the other one," added Woods.
Two-Fold Texas Problem
The Texas Longhorns showed on Saturday that they are capable of reinventing themselves on offense as they are using primarily a shotgun formation with Vincent Young at quarterback and Cedric Benson with him in the backfield. Young had 163-yards rushing on 14 carries while Benson had 174-yards and three touchdowns on 28 carries. All that and they still have the threat of putting Chance Mock in at quarterback and rely on a more conventional offense with an increase in passing.
"First and foremost, you get ready for the offense that they use the most with the most success, and that's Vincent Young and Cedric Benson," said Miles. "We do have concern about their ability to throw the ball to Roy Williams. It is two different thoughts and two different offenses, but we have to get ready for both."
Young is obviously very elusive, but he is still struggling in the passing game as he only threw for 68-yards against Nebraska and is completing 58 percent of his passes. The run is what makes him dangerous.
"He's like a Michael Vick out there except he's 6-5, 220," said defensive end Khreem Smith. "We've got to stop him and Cedric Benson."
Texas Troubled By Balance
The Longhorns have struggled the most this season with offenses that are balanced. Arkansas and Oklahoma were the most balanced and the Razorbacks had 438-yards while Oklahoma had 552-yards. The primary running offenses struggled as the best anyone could do was Kansas State with 298-yards.
"That is definitely the way to move the football against them," said Miles. "They are awfully talented, their personnel are big, strong, fast, and they have a very good scheme. It will be everything we can do to move the football against them. We will as is our design be moving the ball with the run and the pass."
The Cowboys will see some man coverage as Texas is primarily a man-zone team, and that combined with the challenge of having Roy Williams and the touted Texas receivers on the other side should spur the Cowboy wide receivers. At least D'Juan Woods feels it will be a little extra motivation.
"Being the competitive family that Rashaun and I are from, it's on," said D'Juan Woods. "We're going to outplay them, outstat them, that's only nature for us. We go into practice wanting to have a better practice than each other, that's the way we are competitively."
The Cowboys all need to be ready to be competitive on Saturday.
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