1. How did Al Pena play? Why was he intercepted four times?
It was a mixed bag. He started out awful with the fumble on the first play, holding the ball too long. Then on the second series he was sacked twice, which weren't all his fault, but he needed to throw the ball away. The second quarter was much better, and even in the second half he moved the offense well only to force passes into the end zone or close for interceptions. He did throw four picks.
"It was tough. We went out there with a good plan, but they had a pretty good game plan on defense," said Pena. "They played harder than us today. We moved the ball good at times. We knew we could move it, but we had a lot of drive killers."
Maybe the most redeeming value in the game was Pena learned some things because he may be needed again next Saturday at Iowa State, and perhaps beyond that.
"Definitely, this was the first time I played a whole game," said Pena. "I can go back and look at this and if I get to play next week I have to perform much better."
I think he can and will. It's just the lessons of Saturday were tough to go through. On a positive note, the offense had its most yards passing this season (207 yards) and Pena now leads the team in touchdown passes with a whopping two.
2. Texas A&M averaged a season worst 8.1 yards a play against the OSU defense. Why couldn't the defense stop the Aggies offense?
Very simple, the Cowboys looked confused for the second week in a row in trying to defend the option. A&M did line up differently and run it a little different than Missouri, but it is still defending the quarterback and the pitch. Sometimes there was one person completely uncovered. Defensive coordinator Vance Bedford has preached chase the ball, but the last two weeks he's preached assignments. Apparently, some ears have been plugged up, as Bedford would say he has too many "see ball, chase ball" guys. Get ready, Iowa State and Texas will run option until the cows come home unless the Cowboys learn assignments. Getting Lawrence Pinson back should help.
3. What was that trick play the Cowboys tried the third quarter in the red zone?
It is really an ingenious play that worked very well in practice. D'Juan Woods sneaks in and lines up right behind the guard. In practice the defense didn't even see him. Pena takes the snap and then sticks the ball between Woods legs, and Woods waits a count and takes off away from the flow of the offense. First, Pena bobbled the snap and then Woods didn't get the ball. The Cowboys were lucky they recovered, but an interception followed the botched play.
4. What reasonable improvement can be expected?
I wish I could say a lot, but it will be up to the Cowboys, and head coach Mike Gundy knows he will have some work to do with attitude this week. Recovering from 62-23 isn't an easy chore.
"Those guys have to continue to practice and work on their fundamentals and tackle, block, throw and catch, run, work hard, and continue to get better each week," said Gundy. "This will be tough for them. When you get your butt kicked like that it is a real gut check. You have to reach down and find something inside that will push you to get better for next week."
On the plus side Mike Hamilton did improve a bunch, rushing for 97 yards on 12 carries including a 38-yard run, his longest and the team's longest this season.
5. What is this season doing to recruiting?
There will be those fans that will panic, but this staff has done a great job recruiting and they know how to turn this around in their favor. It's not the pitch you like to make, but it is an effective one. The pitch is we have a good program, facilities are getting better, we have the talent in a lot of areas, but WE NEED YOU!
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