No Time To Mope; It's Time To Improve

Mike Gundy's fear was realized on Saturday night in Houston. He was worried that UH senior quarterback Kevin Kolb and a veteran group of complimentary skill players on offense would take advantage of a young Oklahoma State linebacker corps and secondary. They did, and in the area that Gundy hoped would be the youthful Cowboys saving grace there was little to say "Amen" about in the Houston win.

"It was half and half," Gundy said Sunday in identifying the defensive problems between alignment and execution. "(Donovan) Woods and (Andre) Sexton (OSU's safeties) were lined up right. (Jacob) Lacey lined up right most of the time. The corners didn't play that badly. It was mainly the young linebackers, (Alex) Odiari, (Patrick) Lavine, and Chris Collins that were confused, and Rodrick Johnson missed a lot of tackles."

Gundy was reminded that Johnson had 11 tackles in the game, and asked if he should have had a lot more.

"He missed making tackles in space," added Gundy. "We didn't tackle as a team. In the passing game they hit a wheel route, a throwback wheel, and a deep route that we didn't cover well on and got beat, but other than that we didn't tackle. I think Vance Bedford (defensive coordinator) would agree with me, you have to stop the run first. You have to stop their base play. We didn't do that and the next thing you know they've rushed for 200 yards. That's what happens when you don't stop the run."

Gundy didn't throw any of his defenders under the imaginary bus home from Houston that happened to be an American Airlines 757, the largest aircraft to land and take off from Stillwater Municipal Airport. Instead he used Collins, perhaps the Cowboys most physically talented defender, as an example.

"Collins is just a freshman remember," said Gundy. "Going against that offense Collins was playing on his heels and he didn't play well. He'll grow up every game and get better. You can't put a timetable on it.

"They will see on tape exactly the mistakes they made," continued Gundy. "Now they'll know how to improve and then you have to go out and practice."

The Cow boy head coach again cited his disappointment in Houston being the tougher team in the fourth quarter. He said Houston hit harder in the fourth quarter in forcing two Cowboy turnovers, one on the goal line going in by jumbo back Julius Crosslin and one on a punt return by Perrish Cox on a hit that was so hard it knocked Cox's helmet off his head.

"I take full responsibility for that as a head coach," said Gundy. "We've got to get that fixed. I don't want to be a team that gets out-hit."

Offensively, the Cowboys saw a Houston team that changed its stripes a little bit, even though Cougars have no stripes. The Houston defense put more people in the box and challenged the Cowboys in the running game, daring Bobby Reid to throw. Reid threw (13-of-22 for 281 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions). Reid also ran for a team leading 85 yards on seven carries. It added up to 366 yards of total offense, the second highest in school history next to Gundy's 434 yards against Kansas in 1989.

"He played well," Gundy said of Reid. "He made some mistakes and missed some reads, but we had really emphasized to him to hit wide receivers when they are open and he did a better job of that. He's gaining confidence. He's now almost up to a full season of starts and he gets better each practice and every game."

The biggest disappointment for Gundy offensively was the offensive line, where even against a stacked defense he believes the offensive line has to block better.

Reminded that when he was a player his old head coach Pat Jones had a exemplary record in games coming off open weeks Gundy said his formula this week is simple.

"We need to get back to practices like we had in the preseason, long fundamental practices," explained Gundy. "With a young team we don't have that luxury of giving the players a lot of time off."

Gundy said he would like to have four really good and productive two-and-a-half hour practices this week. Then he mentioned giving the players some time away from practice and the coaches next weekend.

Improve and re-group has to be the aim in the only open week of the season because the Cowboys may have failed in their first measuring stick contest of the season. But there are eight more games to climb up or fall down the ladder.

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