A Good Week For Cowboy Coaches

This was the best of both world's for the Oklahoma State coaching staff. Sure, the Cowboys, for the most part, thrashed around Washington State in a 39-13 victory. The Cowboys looked really good on special teams with Perrish Cox scoring on a 90-yard kickoff return and two other scores were set up on punt returns, first by a 56-yard return by Dez Bryant and then a 68-yard effort by Ricky Price.

Matt Fodge averaged 43.5 yards per punt as the Cowboys debuted a rejuvenated "shield" punt formation. Kickoffs and kickoff coverage was okay, and, finally, kicker Dan Bailey and the PAT/field goal unit was perfect in execution.

"I think this was a good win for us and we can just build off this and get ready for our next game at home," said Bailey when asked about the importance and the special teams contributions.

"Our motto this year has been set the tone and I think we (special teams) really came out and did that with the return game and the field goal unit and the punt team. We never really gave them a chance to get back in it. Special teams made some big plays to keep the momentum," Bailey continued.

The defense was strong as they held Washington State to just 196 yards of total offense and 13 points. The shut out in the first half was the first since Nebraska last season.

Defensive tackle Jeray Chatham and defensive ends Derek Burton and Jeremiah Price combined to stop Wazzu running back Dwight Tardy for a safety, the first by Oklahoma State since a Colorado miscue resulted in a safety in 2001. There were six three-and-out series forced by the defense and the safety and an interception by linebacker Justin Gent.

"The ball came to me and I was surprised that I did that (stuck his feet to stay in bounds)," said Gent of the interception right on the boundary. "I'd never done that before, tight roping like that. We‘ve been working hard and our coaches have been working and we had a lot of people that were saying they didn‘t know a lot about us and we knew we had to come out and be physical and show people."

"Yes, this is one that the defense needed," said linebacker Orie Lemon. "We all knew that we needed to come out and play well and get to the ball, be where we were supposed to be, know our assignments, and make it happen. That was our motto for the game and really for the season was to set the tone early in the game."

Offensively, the Cowboys only posted 367 yards but Zac Robinson hit 20 of 27 passes, Kendall Hunter rushed for more than 100 yards, and Dez Bryant was almost unstoppable at times with 7 receptions for 90 yards and some forced pass interference penalties.

"It all starts from the offensive line and they opened some nice holes today and when I see daylight I go through," said Hunter of his effort and his appreciation for the offensive line. "All we came here for was to win."

All of that is good and a 39-13 win on the road to open the season is very good. But every coach has the dream of having a big win to open the season that still includes enough mistakes and problems that allows them to coach up and correct their team as they head to week two. The Cowboys did all that.

Special teams can improve kickoff coverage. The defense needs to improve off that third quarter effort. While allowing only 196 yards of total offense, the Cougars collected 138 yards of that total in the third period when they went up and down the field on the Cowboys defense. That apparent flashback to last season was really frustrating to watch after enjoying the mode of defense displayed the first half.

"There are always things that you can fix and things that you can make better and we have to get in the film room and do that and get ready for our next opponent (Houston)," added Gent.

On offense the Cowboys took what was there as Washington State shored up their run defense, especially the run game involving Zac Robinson and the zone read and option game. They also were determined not to let Brand Pettigrew loose with his "Superman" act that was on display last season against the likes of Texas Tech and Kansas State.

The Cowboys really need to improve their personality in the red zone and at the goal line. The first possession of the game, after the Dez Bryant punt return, led OSU to a first-and-goal inside the five only to result in a field goal. In the Big 12 early momentum given up like that can end up being the difference in the outcome.

There are things to work on and there is a new set of Cougars to hunt down. Houston comes in off its romp over Southern University. Personally, I think the Cougars of UH are more dangerous than the Cougars of WSU. Houston has more speed and more athleticism. They have a very good coaching staff as new head coach Kevin Sumlin went out and hired Big 12 caliber assistants.

The week should be good for the Cowboys. Everybody feels good, and there is still plenty to yell at players about. Coaches have always said it is better to coach hard off a win than a loss.

There are two lessons to this that Oklahoma State fans really have to hope will be true. They say a team improves most from week on to week two. They also say it is easier to coach off of a win. If those are true, and the Cowboys believe then they should reap off both theories and bag their second team of Cougars in as many weeks.

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