October 7, 2008

'We didn't play 60 minutes of football'

The win over Texas A&M was weird in several ways for Oklahoma State.

For starters, the high-octane offense struggled in the early going. The Aggies threw an entirely new playbook at the Cowboys in an attempt to stop them. And if that wasn't weird enough, seeing the OSU defense net five turnovers in the first half was stranger. The unit's amped play in the first 30 minutes kept the Aggies at bay and gave the offense time to figure things out without the game getting too close for comfort.

The defense, while not impressive from start to finish, wasn't a big liability for the Pokes and that's really all that can be asked for at this point. More improvement should come with time, but for now defensive coordinator Tim Beckman is just glad OSU is being talked about in a positive way by the fans and media.

"I mean, 5-0 for this football team is outstanding and hopefully builds a little confidence level up for the players," Beckman said. "As long as they're talking about Oklahoma State that's all I care about."

OSU will get plenty of talk this week, as the No. 17 Cowboys travel northward to take on the No. 3 Missouri Tigers Saturday night in front of a national audience on ESPN2. They're led by likely Heisman Trophy candidate Chase Daniel and feature an offense just as tough and high-scoring as OSU's. To beat the Tigers, the Cowboy D will need to put together a solid four quarters of football.

"We still preach about playing 60 minutes of football," Beckman said. "And I hadn't seen it yet this year. That was the challenge I told them about in the locker room after the game was over. A great feeling, you scored two touchdowns and you do some things to get the ball back for our offense, but we didn't finish the game. We didn't play 60 minutes of football. And that's what we have to do in the next couple of weeks."

With a perfectionist mindset, Beckman said the bad plays stick in his head more than the good. He added that he did see some good things against A&M, including taking a different approach on pressuring the quarterback.

"I think that was one of the keys we needed to do (Saturday) is to put pressure on the quarterback," he said. "Because we're not getting there with four sometimes pass-rush wise, we've tried to come up with some blitz schemes that help our kids come free so we can hit the quarterback. And it wasn't just the D-Line putting on the pressure or the linebackers or the secondary, it was all of them creating pressure on the packages that we had."

Of course, any defensive coach is going to be happy with those five turnovers. And they're especially happy when one player gets two. Ugo Chinasa did just that, recovering a fumble and scoring a pick six against A&M.

"I'll tell you this about Ugo, and this is deep from the heart," he said. "He is fun to coach, he has never been in a bad situation before and it's great to see a young man like that have some success. He works extremely hard and he's the quiet type leader and he's not talked about a whole bunch. So it's great to see that Ugo was successful."

As for Chinasa, a sophomore defensive end from Richardson, Texas, he said that he almost dropped the ball, but was able to take it in for the score. It proved to be a big boost. He said the defensive making more plays against A&M is a result of being more comfortable with Beckman's system.

"Everybody knows the system really now, this is the second year in it," he said. "We get out there playing and we're not thinking a whole lot; last year we were thinking. This year we're just out there playing."

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