Cowboys Welcome Back Blitzes, Sacks & TFLs

STILLWATER – It had to bring a smile to the faces of a lot of Oklahoma State Cowboy fan - four sacks, four quarterback hurries, another two pass deflections at the line of scrimmage, and a total of 10 tackles for losses. The opponent wasn't Colorado, Texas or OU, but it was a return of aggressive attacking defense that allowed OSU to defeat Montana State 15-10 on Saturday night at Boone Pickens Stadium.

Last season the Cowboys struggled in the second half of the season to muster much of a pass rush. But Saturday night against one of the best offenses in Division I-AA they made sure Montana State quarterback Travis Lulay would need some ice packs for the flight home. The sacks were spread around from defensive end Nathan Peterson (who made his return from knee surgery triumphant with a second half sack) to senior linebacker Lawrence Pinson (who repeatedly rattled Lulay). It was a teamwork situation with defensive linemen working together with linebackers and defensive backs to spring somebody loose for a sack.

"I was pretty fortunate to get out on the edge and J.D. (Bray) contained him and I was able to get him from behind," Peterson said of his sack. "That's the way it is when we have guys coming like Jamie (Thompson) and linebackers coming on our blitz packages. We had guys pushing all different gaps and the idea is one or two guys will get held up, some will get picked up, and some will get free and that's what creates the pressure."

On top of getting the 10-yard sack it was just fun for Peterson to be back out there bringing full circle his rehab from the knee injury against Texas A&M that ended his freshman season.

"It felt pretty good," said Peterson with a smile. "I still have a lot of room to make up for and hopefully I will get to do that the next couple of weeks. It just felt good to be back out there with my team again. It was hard watching the second half of the season last year. It was just fun to be out there today."

Not everybody on the defense picked up a sack or a tackle for a loss. Defensive tackle Ryan McBean's line was pretty empty in his first game as a Cowboy, but that doesn't mean he didn't play a role in what was going on, because he did.

"It felt real good, no pressure, I was just doing what the coaches told me to do," said McBean, who didn't have a tackle or a sack but did have a deflection. "I rush up field and open up gaps for the linebackers and defensive ends to get through. I make sure if I'm not making tackles that I'm helping out my teammates make plays."

The coaching staff will use this effort to build on much as they will with the offense, but overall Mike Gundy seemed to like what he saw.

"We had great leadership from our seniors on defense and they carried the young guys," said Gundy. "Nate Peterson makes a big sack, Pinson runs through there making plays. Without looking at the tape I think we had good push in there at times. In the first quarter we couldn't get to him and then our guys picked it up and started getting after him."

You can't imagine how valuable that pass rush that improved throughout the game was welcomed by the guys on the back end of the defense, especially a guy that contributed with a big hit that forced Montana State quarterback Travis Lulay to fumble the ball and halt a potential lead changing drive in the third quarter.

"We started putting pressure on them early," said strong safety Jamie Thompson. "The fake punt put us in a hole, but overall we need to correct those mistakes and get ready for Florida Atlantic."

Florida Atlantic is another team that likes to throw the bal. If the Cowboys can apply some pressure up front, even more than against Montana State, it will certainly help Thompson and those young freshman defensive backs look a lot better in their second time out.

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