Tim Beckman: We Need To Tackle Better

Against a Georgia offense that used screen passes to unlock its offense and lighten the load on a young, inexperienced offensive line, the Oklahoma State Cowboys had a faux pas you just can't have on defense. The Cowboys, who had been drilled constantly since last spring on tackling, had too many misses of Bulldog ballcarriers.

"The bottom line was tackling," said Beckman emphatically. "We had 20 missed tackles for 161 yards, so you take those 161 yards out and they got 215. That's after the yardage that they gained. We gave them yardage on a completed pass but if you don't tackle and tackle in space then that is where you are going to have problems."

That's a lot of yards to give away when the stop could have been made. A lot of drives could have been stopped with good tackling, especially in the second half when the Cowboy offense so badly needed the football. There were problems. Linebacker Jeremy Nethon has seven tackles, including a sack for a 12-yard loss, but he also had some of the whiffs.

It wasn't for lack of wanting to make the tackle, wanting to get that hit is important, but you also have to be under control and have proper form. "They go hand in hand, technique and want to," said Nethon. "You can have perfect technique but if you are scared to hit then it is nothing. With me it was just that I didn't have good technique. I was playing out of control just trying to get to the ball and lost my fundamentals and you pay for them."

Beckman explained, "It's something that you have to constantly work on. We work on it twice, once as a defense and then we work on it on a individual basis. We will continually do it. We'll make sure in practice this week that we actually tackle during the practice (team) so we will get better at it. Give a little credit to the guy from Georgia that was running the football and made us miss some of those tackles. He did an outstanding job in the open field. We have to do better at swarming the football and getting people around and then coming to balance and making tackles."

The good news is that in playing a new defense in a game for the first time, one that is a departure in scheme from what they played a season ago, the Cowboys knew what they were doing from a mental standpoint.

"We had three missed assignments and that's it," said Beckman. "We didn't fit right on some of the pass plays. That's what it was. It wasn't actually missed assignments. The kids were where they were supposed to be but they didn't fit properly to where they needed to be. We had one glaring MA (missed assignment) and that was on a screen."

Now the goal is to bring the mental and the physical together and the timing is critical. We're not going to tell you that Florida Atlantic is a world beater. They did beat Middle Tennessee State last Saturday 27-14 and in doing so ran for 216 yards and had more than 400 yards of total offense. This is an improved team, more experienced than the squad that Howard Schnellenberger fed to the Cowboys a year ago to the tune of 48-8.

"They are very talented and have matured through the program. They all came in here and played as freshman," said Beckman in his brief scouting report. "The running backs are extremely fast, got good talent. Up front they probably aren't as big, but the skill positions are pretty good, the running backs and wide receivers, two tight ends that aren't big kids. They are probably 6-4, 220 pounds, but they run well.

"They beat Middle Tennessee State and they were in a bowl game about like we were around here. They were in the Motor City Bowl against Central Michigan. They came into Florida Atlantic and got beat by them, so give Coach (Howard) Schnellenberger and his team credit."

Now Beckman will work his defense to earn a little credit of its own Saturday by turning those misses into big hits on the Owls.

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