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Cowboys Did What They Wanted on Defense Against Tulsa by Stopping the Run



There were flaws on Oklahoma State’s defense on Thursday night against Tulsa, for sure. Its pass rush was not as good as you maybe would have hoped, it gave up 16 first downs on Tulsa’s 26 third-down attempts and it didn’t force a turnover in the first half.

But defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer said after the game that OSU did what it wanted to do against TU, and that was stop the run.

TU running back D’Angelo Brewer averaged 5.2 and 5.4 yards per carry respectively over the last two years. He’s a stud, and was part of a 1-2 punch with James Flanders that finished Nos. 1 and 2 in the AAC in rushing yards. Tulsa averaged over five yards a carry in 2016 (No. 34 in the country).

On Thursday, Brewer averaged just 1.5 yards a carry and Tulsa as a team could muster just 4.1 (much of that coming on a fourth-quarter run of 55 yards after the game had long been decided).

That’s a credit to Oklahoma State’s deep defensive front and speed at linebacker and in the secondary. Again, Tulsa, but OSU’s team speed seemed a tick or two higher than in years past. They will thrive if they create turnovers, as always, but it appears they’ll also be a little more forceful than normal this time around.

“I was pleased at our run defense,” said head coach Mike Gundy after the game. “I thought that was very good and really set the tone for the game.”

“We did great stopping the run, did a tremendous job,” added Spencer. “I don’t think they had anything on us. They had a 55-yarder but take that away and pretty good night with a team that fancies itself on running the ball.

“That’s what our big concern was because they know how to run the ball effectively … it was impressive how we did against the run game.”

Because this is Glenn Spencer, of course, he had to toss in a warning about getting too high on his squad.

“We have to get more disciplined in our pass rush lanes, all that’s correctable,” said Spencer. “Nothing schematically really hurt us at all. But it was just the effectiveness of their quarterback running the ball and losing contain a couple of times. (We) had a lot of tremendous stops out there though.”

One misconception about Big 12 defense — Oklahoma State’s in particular — is that they have to be great on scoring defense. They don’t. They have to be good at limiting teams in points per drive and creating turnovers. OSU did both on Thursday, and they moved to 72-22 in the Gundy era when creating two or more turnovers on the defensive side.

They also held Tulsa to 1.2 points per drive which is a startling number that, if it stays there, will have OSU talking College Football Playoffs deep into this fall.

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