Trench Warriors Make Bowl Happen

STILLWATER – Following the usual singing, praying and glad handing in the Oklahoma State locker room following the Cowboys 66-24 win over Baylor, head coach Mike Gundy took the time to explain that the Cowboys first goal was to win the Big 12 South. That didn't happen, this year. Their second goal was to go to the postseason and the win over Baylor clinched it. The Cowboys are going bowling.

"It's a tribute to the work those players put in," said Gundy. "Going to a bowl is a reward for what they have invested in this program, in this season. Those players deserve this. They paid the price with hard work and they earned it."

The coaches do too. But if you want to get real specific on Saturday, and with all acknowledgement that Bobby Reid ran and threw well, the running backs ran well, the wide receiver were catching and blocking, and the secondary and special teams were special, the offensive and defensive lines can really accept this win over Baylor as one they stamped with their massive biceps with authority.

When a team scores 66 points (second most in the modern era for the Cowboys to the 70 against Southern Illinois in 1973) and your squad for 387 yards then your offensive line was flat our dominating. Those guys up front -- Corey Hilliard, David Koenig, David Washington, Kurt Seifried and Russell Okung -- smashed, pulverized, squashed and totally crushed the Baylor defensive front. Washington, the OSU center, was especially impressive as he was spotted downfield constantly knocking down linebackers and defensive backs.

"I'll have to watch film to know completely, but I felt I flew around pretty good and I thought we played good on the offense as a whole," Washington said with a big grin in the locker room.

Even a second half quarterback sneak which worked flawlessly for a first down for backup quarterback Zac Robinson was a source of satisfaction.

"I always take pride in plays like that," added Washington. "I feel I can explode off the ball and that I am faster than most defensive linemen that I face. I got the power from Coach (Rob) Glass also. It's all good. I'm trying to do what I've been doing since high school and make downfield blocks and make those skill guys look good."

The power of Coach Glass extended to both sides of the ball on Saturday. By the way Glass was informing the players it would be back to the "iron" on Monday to get ready for Texas Tech.

Koenig has the power and he also knows when he makes blocks, like some of the seals he produced giving Dantrell Savage and Keith Toston big lanes against Baylor.

"Now we have the reputation and guys who are pushing themselves a lot harder," said the junior left guard. "Dantrell (Savage), Keith (Toston), and Mike (Hamilton) are great running backs. I have 100 percent confidence in all of our backs this year."

Baylor had to know it but some of the motivation on Saturday went beyond bowl eligibility, and simply winning another game. After last season's 44-34 frustration in Waco, the Cowboys had the Bears marked.

"That was my first Big 12 season and it felt bad walking off that field after losing to Baylor," said Washington. "I knew we were going to come out and mash them. That is all we talked about in the weight room (during the off-season) and stuff just trying to get 250 yards rushing."

The Cowboys aren't finished. The talk in the locker room was all about getting two wins more before they check out their holiday destination. Koenig feels opponents should hear the Cowboys coming.

"Defenses should not be surprised about our offense," he said in a matter of fact way.

On the defensive side there were turnovers to set up scores like defensive end Nate Peterson's textbook sack of Baylor quarterback Blake Syzmanski in which Peterson also forced a fumble that was recovered by defensive end Marque Fountain and set up a touchdown to make it 24-3. Then in the second half there were back-to-back turnovers that the defense scored on. The first an interception returned for a score by defensive end Darnell Smith. Peterson said the defense had some extra motivation as well.

"Coach (Vance) Bedford challenged us this week that if we were to win by at least 18, we would get to shave his head," said Peterson. "It was not something we wanted to miss out on. Almost all of the players got together after the game and watched assistant strength and conditioning coach (Trumain) Carroll buzz Bedford's head."

Peterson had it suggested that his sack and fumble caused looked like those he may have watched as a kid on NFL Films. Peterson was humble about the play.

"It was nice. It felt that way and I always love the opportunity to hit the opposing quarterback," the junior defensive end that now has a career 14.5 sacks, tying him with Javon Langford at 10th on the all-time OSU sack chart. "With the ball coming out that was a nice bonus."

Darnell Smith was just named this week to the Big 12 All Good Works Team for all of the good he does on campus and in the community, but his work in the game against Baylor was really good for all in orange, and a disaster for those in green.

"Intercepting a pass is something us linemen work on in practice each day," Smith explained of his touchdown. "We had worked that play a lot this week. If the offensive tackles are cutting you the quarterback is probably going to try and throw the ball our way. In practice we work on avoiding cut blocks, to stay on our feet and get our hands up. I was glad to intercept the pass and have the chance to score."

Defensive tackle Ryan McBean also had a sack and Marque Fountain had an 11-yard tackle for a loss. The defensive line was in Syzmanski's face all day long.

"The only thing we can control is our effort and that is what we wanted to show out on the field today," said Smith. "When you show a lot of effort and follow your assignments, you're going to make plays."

For years Oklahoma State fans have lamented over not having the strength in the trenches to compete with the best. These two groups, the offensive and defensive line, can compete. On the day they had their best day the smallest home crowd since 2001 was on hand, but that's OK because these Cowboys were happy to share it with the Cowboy fans there. As for the others, well you know who you are and what one Cowboy coach thinks you are. His players, who shaved his head on Saturday, might be inclined to agree.

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