Tim Beckman: A&M Game Gives 'D' A Boost

STTILWATER - Oklahoma State defensive coordinator Tim Beckman has made it crystal clear that he gets no warm fuzzies in defeat. Beckman admitted that there were some aspects of the Cowboys' play in Saturday's 24-23 loss at Texas A&M that were pleasing, including the shutout the defense pitched in the first half. However, to Beckman that just meant his defense needs more work on finishing.

"There were some positives, no question about it," said Beckman. "When we dropped that interception (Perrish Cox dropping the interception on A&M's field goal drive) then that is three points and we win the football game. So we're either giving up a big play as we did on the halfback pass or even on the screen, that last one they got us on, we were in man coverage and didn't get it covered. We give up two big plays and we didn't make a play and that is what we'll talk to them about. We need to make those plays when your number is called."

The defense did make progress and Beckman is willing to admit that. There was the strong first half. A&M had only 132 yards of total offense, and 48 yards came on a "Hail Mary" on the last play of the half. For the second time this season the defense was asked to get a three-and-out late in the game to get the Cowboys offense the ball back and they did.

"I was proud of the kids and we're going to show them that the effort on that last series was outstanding," said Beckman, his voice showing a little pride. "We need to make sure we have that kind of effort in the third quarter, fourth quarter, first quarter, and second quarter too. I was proud that when their numbers were called they made the plays. It comes down to turnovers and when you have opportunities to get the ball for your offense you need to get it."

Beckman has a great point there as the offense and special teams have given up 13 turnovers this season, seven interceptions and six fumbles. The Cowboy defense has forced just seven turnovers, four interceptions and three fumble recoveries. The only multiple turnover games were Florida Atlantic and Texas Tech, where the Cowboys forced two interceptions on the Owls and two fumbles by the Red Raiders. Saturday's opponent, Nebraska, has given up 13 turnovers throwing eight interceptions and fumbling seven times, losing five. A common denominator in both their losses has been losing the turnover margin in the contest.

With the Nebraska offense the Cowboys will see a different style of attack. They had to have gained a confidence boost in how they played against a more run-oriented attack in Texas A&M, but those passing attacks riddled the Cowboys in losses to Georgia and Troy and even in victory over Texas Tech.

The Huskers West Coast attack was throw, throw, throw for several seasons under head coach Bill Callahan, but it is now more of a balanced outfit. Nebraska averages 439 yards a game on offense with 146 yards on the ground and 293 yards through the air. Five different players have double digit receptions from not so mobile quarterback Sam Keller, who has been sacked seven times.

"A little bit more with the run game," said Beckman noting the difference in the Huskers offense. "With what A&M did we learned how physical we can be in stopping the run. It goes back to the Big 12 and Big 12 offenses. We are facing another top 20 offense again. That's Big 12 football. They do what they do very well. They set up the run by throwing the ball to all different receivers."

A Missouri defense that has struggled at times came up with what Mizzou head coach Gary Pinkel said was their best effort of the season in last week's 41-7 win over Nebraska. They held Nebraska to 297 yards. The Tiger offense exploding for 606-yards had to help, but how did the Tigers do it?

"I guess they did what we've been trying to do, get back to the basics," said Beckman. "It wasn't any miracle defense that they came out in with some different look. It was base defense and they made plays when they needed to make plays and created havoc in the backfield when they had to. They did a great job of playing defense."

Beckman is still looking for more from his defense and he quickly gets back to that favorite word of his - finish.

"We need to finish," said Beckman. "We need to get around to being 60-minute men. We have to correct the little things. We're going to correct the things we need to correct like we do every week. The kid's confidence should be up after playing good for three quarters at A&M, but it is that one quarter that keeps us from winning football games."

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