Ole Miss Defensive Line Coach Terry Price didn't have to watch a lot of film on Oklahoma State to get the picture, clear and in high def.
The Cowboy offensive front his front four - The Landsharks - will be taking on are, in a word, formidable.
"They are a very good offensive line, clearly," said Price. "I watched a couple of games from this year and the one thing that stood out to me is that they are a very athletic line.
"A lot of times you can look at an opposing offensive line and you see one or two real athletic guys and the other two or three are big bodies who get in the way. With Oklahoma State, all five of their guys are athletic."
That's not all Price saw in scouting the Rebs' Cotton Bowl opponent.
"They are very together, a very tight unit. They zone well together and seem to be one big body with 10 arms and 10 legs out there," he continued. "And they work hard. They play very hard. As a coach, you have to love their effort. They stay after their guy until the whistle blows. When you see kids playing that way, rarely taking a play off, you appreciate it and realize they are not only a motivated and talented group, but they are well-coached."
The Cowboy offensive line is mentored by none other than Joe Wickline, who is the co-offensive coordinator and was the Rebel OL coach under Billy Brewer in the 1980s.
"Joe has coached in the SEC - at Ole Miss and Florida. He played at Florida and has a reputation as a coach who demands his guys play physical football," Terry noted. "He's known across America as one of the best in the business and you can see that when you are scouting his guys and watching them get after people.
"It's no accident they led the Big 12 in rushing behind those guys. He's got an All-American in Russell Okung at left tackle who is a heckuva player. Again, Okung is big, strong and athletic."
Another aspect of the Cowboys that will keep the Rebel defense on its toes is their offensive balance and versatility.
"Our guys have to be very assignment sound because you never know when they are going to throw, run or run the option," Price added. "They can come at you from a lot of different angles so you have to be very disciplined in your approach."
Cowboy QB Zac Robinson also garnered kudos from Price.
"What makes them as versatile as they are is their quarterback. You have to defend against him in the run game, he's their all-time leading passer and he's as fast as any quarterback we have faced," T.P. stated. "He's very dangerous when he rolls out and has a run-pass option. He throws well on the run. We need to try to keep him in the pocket as much as we can, but when they roll him out, we have to get him on the ground quickly."
Speaking of the option, the Rebels did not handle the option the last time they faced it - against you-know-who in the last regular season game.
"They do a great job running the option. We have spent a lot of time on defending the option since our last outing," Price said. "That's been a focal point.
"It's assignment football. Make sure everyone does their job. Bottom line - recognize it quickly, follow your keys and take your man. Do not try to help out and leave your assignment. Trust that your teammates are going to do their jobs and do yours."
Price spread a lot of praise toward Oklahoma State, and he meant every word of it, but he knows he's not going to battle with players who are not tried and tested on his side.
"It's going to be a great challenge. They are very good on offense and very good up front, but we've been pretty good too with our defensive front," he closed. "This should be a real tough, fun match."
T.P. impressed with Cowboy OL
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