1. What was the difference in Oklahoma State's defense against Brad Smith vs. their defense last week against A&M's Reggie McNeal?
Let's start with a simple premise – Smith is not as good as McNeal. He may have more physical talent, but he hasn't developed as well as McNeal. Smith can hurt you more with his legs than he can his arm as his development as a passer really lacks. That said, the Cowboys defense did a great job on Smith. The fundamentals of pursuit and tackling were good, but the Cowboys also confused Smith.
"We had some zone blitzes for him and some three-man blitzes for him," said defensive tackle Clay Coe of the Cowboys disguises. "Our secondary did a great job in covering those receivers downfield."
"We knew our offense could do it, we just had to play relentless defense," said safety Jamie Thompson.
"Oklahoma State played really good on defense," said Missouri's Smith. "They brought a lot of mismatches."
2. Why did the OSU offensive line and Vernand Morency have more success in the second half against Missouri?
Missouri has the best defensive line and maybe the best defensive front in the Big 12. They are big, strong and athletic starting with defensive tackles C.J. Mosley and Atiyyah Ellison. They did not rotate much and the Cowboys, in a physical game, wore them down.
"Those guys (Missouri) had a great game plan for us, and we went in at halftime and made some key adjustments," said Morency. "Our coaching staff did a wonderful job with the adjustments."
Some of those adjustments came at the line of scrimmage, like Donovan Woods check to the option in a third quarter scoring drive that ended with a field goal. It was a third-down play that was huge in the outcome.
"Donovan always puts us in the right situation, and our offensive line, I may sound biased, is the best offensive line in the nation," added Morency, who finished with 173 yards on 30 carries. "He showed poise on that play, looking over the defense, and coming up with the right play at the right time. He made a great check."
"I did it a lot more times than that, but that's probably what the average fan noticed," said Woods of his play changing. "That's what the coaches ask me to do is get us in the right play and lead the team. I saw something we had worked on and we did just what we did in practice."
It was frustrating for Missouri head coach Gary Pinkel as he watched the Cowboys wear down his Big 12 leading defense. OSU finished with 388 toal yards, including 278 yards on the ground.
"They did a good job," said Pinkel of Oklahoma State. "I thought we did a good job of containing him, but then in the second half we struggled to stop him. It was really disappointing. I'm responsible for this football team, and I didn't do a very good job."
3. Why did Donovan Woods almost double his best rushing day so far this season?
Woods scrambled some with success, but the 34-yard touchdown on the zone read was a piece of beauty. Woods made a great read and benefitted from a great block by tight end Charlie Johnson. Vernand Morency, who also gained from the blocking of the offense, saw what the tight ends were doing.
"Those guys have done a wonderful job every game this season," said Morency. "You can count on them every time."
Woods agreed in sharing credit with his supporting cast.
"We have guys here that understand what they are supposed to do, and they did in the second half. Really the first half too, but give Missouri credit."
Woods has now had a rushing touchdown in six of the Cowboys' seven games.
4. What was the most important play for the Cowboy secondary?
It is very simple – the first series and the underthrown pass by Smith that was picked off by Robert Jones. Jones badly needed some confidence after two subpar games. His first interception of the season and a 33-yard return served as a change for Jones. The Cowboys had to have him turn it around and that interception seemed to do it. OSU did not score, but that interception may have prevented scores later in the game.
5. What is the value of the win over Missouri?
For Miles it really solidified the Cowboys image of being a road warrior this season.
"They are not distracted," said Miles. "Now they came out with a slow start, (but the) defense did not. Offense needed time to make some adjustments and get on track. They overcame some obstacles to win, and that's what you have to do if you're a good football team. You have to win on the road, and you have to come from behind and they did that."
It also was win number six, making the Cowboys bowl eligible.
More importantly, it kept OSU alive in the Big 12 South race, and will give the Cowboys a big emotional and confidence boost as they prepare for bedlam on Saturday.
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