Oklahoma State looked pretty good in their season opener against Missouri State last week, and they started off solid on defense, holding the Bears to just nine yards in the first quarter. In the second quarter, Missouri State only managed 81 yards of offense, and 75 of those came on the one scoring drive that they put together.
The second half was a different story, however, as Oklahoma State’s defense struggled to get stops, allowing 179 more yards and 10 more points. This week, the Cowboys need to tighten up some things on the defensive end, which should be no issue against a team like the South Alabama Jaguars. Here are a few specifics that Oklahoma State can work on improving.
Clean Up the Penalties
On Missouri State’s lone scoring drive in the first half, Oklahoma State picked up two costly penalties, a holding and an offsides call, which allowed the Bears to extend the drive and end with a score. The Cowboys had another defensive offsides call at another point in the game, as well.
When it comes down to it, penalties are bound to happen, and some are essentially near unavoidable. However, getting whistled for penalties in situations that allow the opposition to put points on the scoreboard cannot happen.
Limit Big-Yard Plays
For the most part, the Cowboys did a solid job on a down-to-down basis against the Bears. Oklahoma State allowed Missouri State quarterback Peyton Huslig to break loose for a 58-yard run and a 29-yard run. Huslig managed to complete just 11 passes out of 28 attempts, but of those 11, three were for over 20 yards, and four more were for double digits.
The secondary could definitely be a cause for concern moving forward, especially as the competition gets tougher, so they need to do everything they can to work out the kinks. Giving up big plays almost certainly leads to points for the opposing team, so the Cowboys need to take care of business against the Jaguars and continue to improve as the season continues.
Shut Down the Run Game
One area in which the Cowboys excelled last weekend was shutting down Missouri State’s run game. The Bears rushed for 110 yards, but more half of those came on the one big run from Peyton Huslig.
The front line did a solid job of getting penetration into the backfield by racking up five sacks and 11 tackles for loss. South Alabama rushed for a solid 217 yards on 43 attempts against Louisiana Tech last weekend. The Jaguars ran the ball almost twice as often as they threw it, so the Cowboys can expect them to try to establish some success on the ground. Getting pressure in the backfield and shutting that down will take some pressure of the secondary and allow themselves to keep South Alabama out of the end zone.