Points allowed: 25.2 (31.3)
Rushing Defense: 149.9 (205.5)
Pass Defense: 221.5 (214.2)
Total Defense: 371.4 (419.6)
Fumbles Recovered: 14 (15)
Interceptions: 9 (5)
Sacks: 34 for 239 yards (24 for 159 yards)
The Cowboys were better in every category except a seven-yard dip in pass defense and one less fumble recovered than a season ago. Points allowed were a touchdown better and rush defense and total defense were both in the neighborhood of 50 yards better. All that said, defensive coordinator Vance Bedford has been a volatile personality throughout the season. He's an individual that where you either love him or hate him, it doesn't bother him because Vance Bedford seems to know who is on his side and who isn't and deals with it.
The opinion of Cowboy fans on Bedford as a coach going into the offseason will likely depend on the performance of his defense in the Independence Bowl against an Alabama team that has playmakers but has struggled on offense. The loss of head coach Mike Shula, who called the plays, and the fact that former Tulsa head coach Dave Rader, an inventive offensive coach, will control the Crimson Tide offense makes the challenge that much more interesting.
GoPokes.com: What do you think of Alabama's offense after studying them on tape?
Bedford: A good football team. They are 6-6, but at the same time when you lose to LSU, Auburn and people that are top-10 teams then that is pretty good. They were in every single ball game and had a chance to win every last one of them, so we are going to have a great game. I'm looking forward to playing a team that has had such a great history.
GoPokes.com: They have had more success passing the ball than running it and even their coaches admit that the lack of success running the football surprised them.
Bedford: It is like anything else, at times they didn't stick with the running game. They would get behind by seven points and would go to the pass right away. If they decide they want to stick to the run then it would be a tough ball game. I am hoping that they drop back and throw the football. I'm looking forward to that because in our conference that is what we see a lot of. I think our guys will be ready for that.
GoPokes.com: How dangerous is their quarterback John Parker Wilson in that he has shown he is not afraid to the tuck the ball and run with it?
Bedford: That has always been a thorn in our side, athletic quarterbacks. At the same time he does look to throw it first and I think that benefits us rather than a guy that looks to run it first.
GoPokes.com: How much does the change of play-caller to Dave Rader concern you? He can't re-invent the wheel but he probably can insert some new wrinkles, right?
Bedford: I think he has the opportunity to re-invent the wheel. When you have a month to get ready for somebody ... they already have a pretty decent passing game and he can implement a few things that he did at Tulsa that when I was here (OSU) before gave us all kinds of problems. We are going to have two game plans ready to go and once they get into the game then see what we have to do to win the game.
A Conversation With Vance Bedford
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