Tim Beckman: Stopping The J-Train

After four consecutive weeks of facing offenses that are predominantly spread or want to throw the football, the Oklahoma State defense jumps back into Big 12 play with the task of stopping a much different attack. Over the last four games (Florida Atlantic, Troy, Texas Tech and Sam Houston), 204 of the 328 plays the Cowboys defense has been on the field have been called passes.

This Saturday Oklahoma State will be in College Station facing a Texas A&M Aggie offense that has run the ball 238 of its 371 offensive plays. So, it'll be great to trade the spread for Jorvorskie Lane coming through the "A" gap, right?

"No, I mean it's never that," said OSU defensive coordinator Tim Beckman. "Both backs (Lane and Mike Goodson) are phenomenal players. Lane is a big, physical back and they do such great things with the option game. You really have to turn your frame of mind around a little bit. Sam Houston gave us a little of the stuff, but not as much of the option. You have to change your frame of mind and make sure you are playing your responsibilities in the option game."

The Cowboys have been much maligned over their lack of success stopping the pass and being ranked 117th in the country in pass defense, allowing 342.6 yards per game. They are 26th in the nation in rushing defense allowing just 100.2 yards a game, but they haven't seen much of the run since Georgia, except from Troy's scrambling quarterback Omar Haugabook. The entire week will be needed to change the mindset.

"It goes back to the basics of tackling and getting off blocks and those kinds of things," said Beckman of what will be emphasized in preparation for the Aggies on Saturday. "It is good to see, you want to stop the run and I think we have done a fairly decent job of stopping the run. We will have to perform at a different level now because Texas A&M will try to take the ball and run it down our throat."

"I think you just have to hit (Lane) early," said OSU strong safety Andre Sexton, who lead the Cowboys with 15 tackles in the A&M game last season. "You have to try and keep the ball out of his hands, and last year I think we did a pretty good job of slowing him down except for that last pass play when he came up really big.

"You have to hit him low and really early and you have to gang tackle him. You can't have just one person hit him and then let him get out on the corner and smaller players. You have to have as many people around him as you can."

The defense did get a little rest in last Saturday's 39-3 win over Sam Houston in preparation for dealing with the J-Train (Lane), the speedster Goodson, and option operator at quarterback Stephen McGee. Sam Houston snapped the ball the least number of times of any opposing offense since Florida Atlantic, and some of the young players played in the fourth quarter including defensive tackle Shane Jarka, who had three solo tackles, and linebacker Justin Gent, who had two stops and a pass break up.

"The young kids coming in there was good, no question about it, but I am still a firm believer that we need as many repetitions with our ones, and that's why you saw them in there a little longer than probably they could have been taken out a little earlier," explained Beckman. "We're still learning phases of this defense. We need to make sure we are getting the proper number of reps, but not too many and overdoing it. That is all our responsibility in getting three and outs. It was good to see the young kids, but we still need to get the older players more reps."

Being an Ohio native you might think Beckman knows little about Aggies traditions and historic Kyle Field. Not so, for a couple of years while he was in high school Beckman lived in Beaumont, Texas, as his dad was coaching at Lamar University. In fact, one of Beckman's former classmates in Beaumont is a Aggie Club alum leader.

"I have not been there," said Beckman. "I heard a lot about it. I know a lot about the tradition of Kyle Field."

He also knows how last year's OSU-A&M game ended and realizes that his players have an axe to grind with A&M.

"We've watched the tape and it has been talked about since the time that I've been here, the (fourth down) catch that Lane made and the blocked PAT," said the Cowboy defensive coordinator. "The kids understand and remember and they have to understand that to win a championship you have to win on the road, so we have to make sure we take care of our business."

The business of stopping the Aggie running game, a pretty serious chore when it means putting your face, shoulders, chest, legs, and everything you've got in front of a 6-0, 268-pound train.

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