Robert Allen's Cowboy Football Report

GoPokes.com Executive Editor Robert Allen offers a variety of thoughts and opinions leading up to Oklahoma State's game Saturday night against third-ranked Texas at Boone Pickens Stadium.

I guarantee that Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy is sick of hearing about it. Most of the Oklahoma State players have only been here for one, two, or three of the losses to Texas. They can't be real excited about hearing about it.

Now, I'm pretty sure that Texas head coach Mack Brown doesn't mind it, but it is counterproductive to what he is hoping to accomplish this week. The subject is Texas' 11 straight wins over the Cowboys and several under some of the more unique circumstances.

There have been monumental comebacks like the one against Les Miles's 2004 team in Austin. There have been hard fought games like 2001, 2002, and last season in Austin. There was the huge fourth quarter comeback in 2007 in Stillwater.

How do you explain all the close calls and no rewards since OSU's 1997 victory over Texas with then head coach John Mackovic?

"That question comes up every year and I'm not sure if we're snake bitten but I feel that when we play Texas, they have very good football teams," said Gundy with a sound theory.

"Maybe someone could give us a number offhand over the last four years what their overall record is, but it's probably pretty good. In most cases, when you're competing in a team sport against teams that are really good, you have to be sound in all areas.

"You have to have a good plan and your players must be tuned in and play really hard to put yourself in a position to win the game. There is some credit that goes to the players in the last few years for putting themselves in that position, and then you'd like to eventually find a way to get it done."

The Cowboys players certainly don't seem to have an inferiority complex when it comes to Texas. In fact, it's quite the opposite. It is the sensation that they are getting closer and closer all the time.

"I think, over the years, we've earned the respect from them and other teams in the conference that we can stay in there right with them and play with them the whole game," said Oklahoma State quarterback Zac Robinson.

"Obviously, we haven't been able to finish it off and we've been real close. We know that we can be competitive and hopefully we can come out and play well this week."

Now, again, the view from the opposing side is a little different, but don't expect Mack Brown to crow about past conquests this week. The veteran head coach would likely trade some, not all but some of the past wins, for a win this week with everything his team has at stake in the current season. He has the politically correct answer to the question of the Longhorns success over the Cowboys.

"I'm not sure," answered Brown. "Most coaches don't get to coach against somebody 11 times. You start looking at them. I think the fact is they've got a lot of Texas kids. They've got more Texas kids probably than anybody we play outside the state of Texas. Those kids get really excited about playing in our game.

"You look at it, I think we've come behind three times in 11 years, the rest of them have been good games. They've been tough games, but it's because they're getting better.

"Les Miles did a really good job there, (and) Mike (Gundy) has continued, now they're one of the best teams in the country. I think you're looking again at the Big 12 South has some of the best teams in America in it. That's what makes our division so tough."

Politically correct, Brown is hoping for one more Saturday night. The Cowboys and their fans just want one. Gundy won't count on luck, karma, or any spiritual force to get it done. The game plan is simple and the same as it was for Baylor and the week before that, and the week before that.

"You work hard as a staff and as a team and put together a plan in all three phases and then you ask the players to play hard, and as a coach you hope that your plan was good," said Gundy. "You hope your plan is equal to or better than theirs and if the players go play hard, you put yourself in a position to try to win the football game."

Brown said, "We haven't started in this game as well, but give our kids credit for hanging in there and coming back. One of the earmarks of our program has been comebacks in the fourth quarter, and this series has had a lot of those. I think it's who you are. You'd rather not get behind.

"The one where we fell behind 35-7 in the second quarter and won 56-35, I called my mom after the game like I do every game because if I don't I'll be in trouble. I said, 'Mom, what about that comeback?' She said, 'Everybody's bragging on your halftime talk. What about pregame? Could you give a pregame talk that's more decent than that to get them started right?' That's my mother."

Okay, so there it is, it's all in the pregame and halftime talks. Yeah, right.

Story of Two Quarterbacks
Is it so simple that which quarterback plays best then his team will win? The answer is no, but it could go a long way toward deciding the outcome and the Cowboys Zac Robinson and Texas' Colt McCoy are both playing really well.

You could say they are the two best quarterbacks in the Big 12 this season. They are both on the Davey O'Brien Award semifinalist list that came out on Monday. Robinson is now seventh in the nation in pass efficiency while McCoy is 20th in the nation in total offense.

"He's playing well right now," Gundy said of Robinson. "He's playing with more confidence. He's managed the game very well. In my opinion, being a good quarterback is being able to manage the game in understanding what your strengths are and where their weaknesses are and try to attack those areas using what your strengths are as an offense. I think he's done a pretty good job of that over the last few weeks."

Brown says, "Zac's won a whole lot of football games and he takes care of the football. He runs the ball really well. You can tell by the fact that they've only given up four sacks this year that he is a very good quarterback.

"I don't think he gets the credit he deserves," Brown continued. "He's been good against us every year that we've played. He's really tough. You hit him and he jumps right back up and goes back to play. He's been a great player for Oklahoma State."

No more so than McCoy at Texas. Brown loves his quarterback and wouldn't trade him. In fact, he is really happy following the offensive effort last Saturday in the 41-7 win over Missouri on the road.

"This team is getting its swagger now," said Brown. "I thought it was the first time the offense had its swagger. The defense has had it, special teams have it. I was really proud that Colt (McCoy) kind of jump-started that whole thing."

The two quarterbacks actually know each other. The Robinson and McCoy relationship hasn't been as publicized as much as the McCoy and Sam Bradford friendship but it is founded from some of the same events. They have all been together at the Elite 11 Quarterback Camp and the Manning Family Passing Camp.

"I know Zac is a good guy," said McCoy. "He is a great quarterback, and he runs his offense really well, so it is a huge game. For us, it is a big game, too. It is the biggest game of the year. This week compared to last year is very similar. We definitely have to be ready. It is a conference game. What more motivation do you need to know that this a big game for us? I think it means a lot to both teams."

Good Job Gundy
I can tell you from my experience that Mike Gundy and his staff have done a tremendous job of coaching this season as they have overcome losses of injury and Dez Bryant to being ineligible and have game planned and coached up the younger players to great success.

I think Mack Brown is sincere when he spots the samething from a distance. Gundy has also done something most coaches don't do about facing adversity. He has kept his mouth shut about the bad breaks his team has dealt with.

"They're on a five-game winning streak," said Brown. "Mike Gundy is doing an outstanding job with their program. They are getting consistently good. They're a team that you have to contend with each year, and I know they feel like this was going to be a big year for them.

"They've got 50 kids from the state of Texas, (and) 12 of them start so it's always a very emotional game for them. You haven't heard Mike and his staff say anything about the loss of Hunter or Bryant. I think they have done one of the best coaching jobs in the nation this season."

Special Teams Priority
One of my keys to winning for Oklahoma State, and really for both teams, is to win the special teams. Either score in the special teams and shut out the opponent, or if we have multiple big plays in special teams then make sure you have one more than the other side.

"Oklahoma State's always good in special teams," said Brown, who has to be elated with his seven special teams touchdowns this season. "They're averaging 45.5 yards per punt, so it will probably be a great challenge again for our punt block and return game because if you get a great punter it gives you more opportunity to return. We are doing more than ever. We thought we did more than anybody in the country and this year we've just added.

"When you have an opportunity to score like we do every play in special teams, the kids are so excited about it. They were fighting with coaches to try to get on the teams. I just feel like in these type games, when you're in the mix at the top, you've got to handle the turnover ratio and especially on the road you've got to make some plays in the kicking game.

"We're actually working on every phase every day in practice. We're putting a tremendous amount of time in and it's paying off."

Boone Pickens Stadium Is Unique
We already know it is tight and Mack Brown is going to find that it has become louder since his last visit. But Brown is also spot on with his knowledge of the stadium's history and the significance.

"The field itself is unique," said Brown. "I think it's the only one, or one of two, that is built in the opposite direction of all the other fields in the country. Theirs is east-west; the rest are north-south.

"The boundary is really, really close to you. I remember one year up there, I was on the sideline and my headphones went out and we scored a touchdown. Some guys that were enjoying their beverages felt like they were sitting with me and said, 'Brown, you're such an idiot they don't even let you hear what they're calling when the score a touchdown.' And I thought, 'You know, he's really right. I didn't even have it on.'

"You get to know the fans really well there. It's fun. The fans are always great up there. The fans behind the bench are aggressive but they're fun. They usually know your mom's name. They've got a lot of information on you."

Cowboy fans, don't disappoint Mack Brown. Check your Google and Wikipedia.

Weatherman Mack


Want a forecast for Saturday and the game, tune into Mack Brown's news conference as he is a full service coach for the Texas fans, complete with a weather forecast.

"It sounds like the weather's going to be great for our fans on Saturday night," said Brown pointing to the map (no, just kidding). "It's going to be about 61 degrees during the day and 47 or 48 at night and not a lot of wind. It should be a perfect night for football."

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