1. What did the Cowboys do on defense to neutralize the Texas Tech offense?
It is a plan that will be copied by a lot of teams in the future, probably starting with Oklahoma which plays Texas Tech next Saturday. One Oklahoma State defensive assistant coach reported an hour after the game that they had already received several congratulatory calls from coaches asking for a copy of the tape to be sent next week.
It really wasn't that complicated. Defensive coordinator Vance Bedford praised the execution of the Cowboy defenders and said that the Cowboys simply mixed up some of what they have done all season. Using cover two and cover one with some disguises, they used both their regular 4-3-4 personnel group and alignment along with their 3-3-5 personnel group and alignment. They ran regular blitzes and some zone blitzes featuring defensive tackles Larry Brown, Ryan McBean and Darnell Smith dropping into short pass coverage and blitzing linebackers and safeties. The biggest change was the added movement and theatrics up front at the line of scrimmage designed to confuse and distract the Red Raider offense, in particular quarterback Cody Hodges.
"They did not do anything different than a lot of other teams we've played," Hodges said after the game. "They disguised a lot of their stuff, played a lot of cover two, which is something we have not seen a lot of this year. That is just another coverage we have to adjust to and we did not do a very good job of that all day. They deserve a lot of credit and when we play like that we do not deserve to win."
"I think definitely at the first of the game they had no idea what we were doing," said senior defensive end Jerry Don Bray, who forced a fumble in the contest. "They were missing assignments off the first of the game and it took them awhile to realize what we were doing just moving the front around and the linebackers. It really confused them on blocking assignments."
"Coach Bedford had us ready with the schemes and we prepared well," said senior cornerback Daniel McLemore. "He told us to just go out there and have fun."
In the end the biggest key was the effort made to tackle Tech receivers right after the catch and not allow extra yards, and the effort made to stop the running game. Tech ran for a grand total of 30 yards with standout all purpose back Taurean Henderson rushing eight times for minus six yards.
"Every time we treid to run, it was if they knew what we were doing and they were always a step ahead of us on the run game," added Hodges.
"He's a great back and a point of emphasis these two weeks as we prepared for them was to stop the run and make them one dimensional," added Bray. "Right out of the gate we made them throw the ball and it worked. We knew they just run a handful of plays out of a lot of formations and we were ready."
2. What was Gundy's thinking in replacing Bobby Reid with Al Pena after the fumble?
It was not a punishment, but instead Gundy simply used a feeling as a coach and went with it. Often times when a young player makes a mistake he will come back and press to make a play in order to make up for it. There has to be a concern that Reid would begin pressing and make another mistake. Gundy had another quarterback he has confidence in and decided to go with Pena.
"We are still getting average play from our quarterbacks," added Gundy. "Bobby (Reid) was very average today. Al (Pena) came in and was effective other than a bad decision (interception) on the goal line. I think when you are getting average quarterback play you have to be able to run the ball. I wanted to give Bobby a rest and I told him we're going to put Al in for a little bit and see what happens. Al had shown us that he could execute and handle the pressure and he went in and did very well and took us down the field."
Our guess is that Bobby Reid will come back next week and start at quarterback against Baylor.
3. Wow! Was Gundy really that upset over the officiating when he went into two separate tirades?
Part of it was for effect for the officials, but Gundy said he really was mad about the first pass interference call in which he felt it was Texas Tech that interfered, not Calvin Mickens. On the inadvertent whistle on the lateral that was initially called a pass and was later reviewed, the referee admitted he blew the call and after his initial arguing Gundy was okay with it. As okay as you can be with a bad call or mistake that costs you.
4. Where did the running game come from?
It's been there, sort of. Mike Hamilton and Julius Crosslin have both been developing and Saturday they crossed over a little. Up until the Texas Tech win Crosslin has been the goal-line scoring back and Hamilton the main carrier of the mail. Hamilton scored his first touchdown of the year on the 83-yard run to open the scoring. He finished with 161 yards on 23 carries and now has 868 yards on the season giving him the school record for rushing yards by a freshman, passing Jamaal Fobbs 846-yard total in 1997.
When Hamilton went out in the first quarter with a four-inch cut on his right bicep that went to the muscle, Crosslin came in and did a good job. He was the fresh back late in the game and had 46 of his 92 yards in the game on the final game-winning drive.
"I was proud of our offense and the way they ran the ball. The thing we learned in this game was, we were dealt with some adversity in the fourth quarter and we handled it very effectively in this game," said Gundy. "We were able to drive the ball at the end. I wanted to go down and score and not leave them any time on the clock. I was proud of the way Julius (Crosslin) came in and ran extremely hard. I thought he ran hard today and was a punishing runner. He provided a good mix with Michael (Hamilton). I think our football team has improved in the running game."
"They had a big back (Crosslin) and he was hard to tackle," said Tech defensive end Fred Thrweatt. "We just had to bear down and make plays and hold on for dear life on the others."
Crosslin was happy for himself, but he was also happy for Hamilton.
"I was more excited than him I think," Crossling said of the moment after Hamilton's 83-yard touchdown run. "I wanted to go out and jump on him, but I had to be in on the extra point so I just ran out and bumped him and told him good job. Then when I came back on the sideline I was proud of him like a father of a son or a brother to a brother."
5. What are the major prizes resulting from the win over Texas Tech?
The biggest value is that Oklahoma State still has plenty to play for with two games left in the season. The Cowboys can qualify for their fourth bowl game in a row by closing out the season with wins over Baylor and Oklahoma.
The win also should buoy the already strong recruiting efforts. There were some very talented prospects on hand for the game, including Salt Lake City Cottonwood High Schol quarterback Alex Cates. Junior college wide receiver Devin Thomas was there on an official visit. The Cowboys are also recruiting head-to-head with Texas Tech on some key prospects in Texas.
The other major value was for the 19 seniors that played their last game at Boone Pickens Stadium on Saturday. "It is a great tribute to our seniors that they will always remember that the last time they played on Boone Pickens Stadium they beat the 13th-ranked team in the country," Gundy said. "They will remember that forever."
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