Cowboy football kicked off opening weekend with a poor offensive performance, but the defense was quite the opposite. Time and time again, Oklahoma State was able to stuff Missouri State when it counted most, and in the end, the Cowboy defense put up some impressive numbers.
Week 2 features a slightly tougher opponent in the Tulsa Golden Hurricane, but after being upset 19-17 by UC Davis last weekend, it’s hard to see Tulsa as much of a threat. Still, Tulsa went 6-3 in 2020, so they shouldn’t be overlooked by any means.
Who knows what Oklahoma State’s offense, specifically the run game, is going to be able to do, but if there’s one thing the Cowboy faithful can count on, it’s that the defense is going to show up to play. Here are a few key areas where I think the guys need to focus to make picking up a win that much easier.
Shut Down the Run
The Cowboy run defense was nothing short of stiff against Missouri State. Despite 37 attempts, the Bears were able to tally just 102 rushing yards, good for a measly 2.8 yards per attempt, and no touchdowns. This week’s challenge, however, will prove to be more substantial.
Despite losing their season opener, the Golden Hurricane ran wild for 247 rushing yards on just 34 attempts for a 7.3 yard per carry average. Now, UC Davis is not the well-experienced defense that Oklahoma State has, so I’m sure Tulsa will not duplicate that output again.
Last season, the Cowboys had no problem shutting down Tulsa’s run game, holding them to 112 yards on 32 attempts for 0 touchdowns. I anticipate this year’s showdown will be very similar.
No Big Plays
Even the best defenses in the land can fall apart if they give up a big play. A hail mary, a long run: it doesn’t really matter what it looks like. Big plays are major momentum shifters, and they can give an underdog just enough juice to push themselves over the edge.
Last week, the Cowboys did a great job at limiting big plays from Missouri State. Oklahoma State allowed just 5 plays of 20+ yards, and 2 of those came late in the game when the Bears were playing especially desperate.
Simply put, Oklahoma State needs to keep it simple, make tackles at first contact, and not gamble. If the Cowboys can do that, they should have no problem keeping Tulsa contained.
Take Advantage of Opportunity
Last week against Missouri State, the defense saved the day with 3 forced turnovers to help make up for the 3 giveaways by the Cowboy offense. Tulsa basically gave the game away to UC Davis last weekend, throwing two interceptions and losing a fumble. The fumble in particular was especially costly as it took place deep in UC Davis territory late in the 4th quarter.
The Golden Hurricane are likely going to give the Cowboys opportunities for takeaways, and a great defense is ready for any opportunity. Linebacker Malcolm Rodriguez had a team-high 15 tackles last week, and with a leader like that at the helm, I think it’s safe to say that if a chance comes up for a play to be made, the Oklahoma State defense is going to make it happen.
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