One aspect of this Cowboys team we saw on the sidelines is the physical superiority. Arkansas State is not a Big 12 team, but last season when the two programs met their was not a physical dominance. Saturday night there was. At the line of scrimmage the Cowboys won the beauty contest as they looked bigger, stronger and more conditioned than the Arkansas State players. Then at the snap of the ball, the Cowboys dominated.
"I think so," said Gundy. "We are in good shape and we had the luxury of rotating our defensive linemen that they (Arkansas State) did not. We played several wide receivers and had several tailbacks. I think later in the third quarter and the fourth quarter of the game we wore them down. Then our defensive linemen rotating had played about 25 plays each and their five offensive linemen were in the game throughout."
Several facets that Gundy was quizzed on and seemed very eager to answer had to do with defense and the punting game. A quick look at the stats from the game emphasize both areas as Oklahoma State averaged starting their possessions at its own 40-yard line while Arkansas State's average starting field position was its own 16-yard line. You could include kickoffs and kickoff coverage in that area as well.
"We have more speed, we're better in the secondary," said Gundy. "We cover better with guys like Jacob Lacey, Andre Sexton, and even (Martel) Van Zant. Our depth in the defensive line can create a lot of havoc. Now is its fair to say they haven't been challenged? Arkansas State is not like a Big 12 team and I'm not putting them in that category. It is good though that while they haven't been challenged they (first team defense) haven't allowed a score.
"(Matt) Fodge has done a good job," said Gundy. "Defo (special teams coordinator Joe DeForest) and I were breaking down the special teams tape and he commented that we have level-headed kickers and punters. They are not out there in left field which some of those guys can be. They work hard, are stronger, and have developed. A good turnaround is 40 to 42 yards, unless you are trying to trap them. We've played well and have had that kind of turnaround."
The challenge this week will be preparing for a Florida Atlantic team that is 0-2 and has been blown out twice, losing 54-6 to Clemson and 45-0 at Kansas State on Saturday.
"I haven't watched much tape on them yet, but they have struggled obviously," said Gundy. "We made enough mistakes on Saturday that we need to go out and correct those mistakes. We need to prepare for Florida Atlantic like anybody else."
Gundy said he didn't expect it to be a problem. He will challenge his players to go out and get better in areas -- like ball control, blocking, tackling in space, protecting the ball. He feels his team has done a good job of staying focused and will push them to continue that attribute.
It is also another opportunity for full involvement. If the Cowboys can dominate and put away the Owls early then everybody can get a taste of game action, like in the opener against Missouri State. Backups like Zac Robinson, young offensive linemen, young defensive backs and scout teamers could really benefit, and the attitude of the team would be greatly enhanced. The challenges for this football team lie on the other side of Saturday. Do you go in looking strong or being sloppy? As these Cowboys know and discovered again after the first quarter against Arkansas State there is a definite difference.
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