September 19, 2009

Back in the Saddle: OSU looks to rebound

Finally.

That's got to be what the Oklahoma State Cowboys are thinking as they finally prepare to play another game on the gridiron. Time to officially put the Houston debacle in the past and take out some frustrations.

They'll get that opportunity in a few hours, as the No. 16 Pokes host the Rice Owls inside Boone Pickens Stadium for a 6 p.m. kickoff. The game won't be televised, but OStateIllustrated.com will have running commentary of the action on The Corral.

For Mike Gundy, this game couldn't get here fast enough, though he thinks his squad will bounce back in fine fashion.

"I think the kids are resilient," Gundy said. "I think they overcome things. (Sunday) night, I get a call and my 4-year-old is in the emergency room. He's cut his foot open and he's getting stitches. He's walking around today, he's 4 years old, and he doesn't know the difference. I think our guys are the same way. It stings now. When you've won and had as much success as we have, they want to win for themselves, for the team and for everybody."

After a couple of tough games to start off the season, OSU (1-1) gets a scrimmage bye week of sorts. The Owls come to Orange Country losers of both of their games this season. Each outing was a massacre in favor of their opposition. In game one, Rice was blasted by Alabama-Birmingham. Last week, Texas Tech drilled the Owls, 55-10, allowing 560 yards of total offense.

That's a number that has to excite the listless OSU offense, which has had some consistency issues so far in 2009. Among the top units in the nation in the past couple of seasons, the Cowboys only rank 68th so far this year.

But that has to change sometime soon - right? Why not today? It will be a major storyline this evening.

And even though the Cowboys haven't been running on all cylinders yet, offensive lineman Noah Franklin doesn't think it's due to a lack of confidence.

"No," he said. "I think we're confident in who we are and our capabilities as an offense and we just have to go back to work and keep improving on what we're doing."

"It's just things like that happen," said wide receiver Josh Cooper." We've just got to keep coming out and preparing for the next team and executing our offense. It's just been key turnovers and key possessions."

The Owls should be no match for the offense, so the Cowboys should be able to put points on the scoreboard early and often. It should also provide the defense a chance to work out its kinks. They turned in an admirable performance against Houston at times, but still allowed the Cougars to move the ball most of the time.

"After Saturday, everybody was mad because no one likes to lose," said Lucien Antoine. "We were mad; upset. They're on scholarship just like we are. They came to play and we've got to give them their props. We should have played harder than them. They did. They played harder than us, so what we've got to do is keep our head up because it's a long season. We've got to go back to work and come ready to play because we know what to expect now. Get ready, get better and go out there and play."

With that scare behind them, OSU is in a position where it can't afford another mistake before conference play starts. At this point, the Pokes can't sleep on any team. Gundy realizes that any team could challenge his team - even the Owls.

"Rice is a team that you have to be very careful with," he said. "Offensively, their attack is similar to what we faced last week. In my opinion, they want to run the football a little bit more. They have the same spread attack and they're going to move fast and try to catch you out of gaps defensively. They have lost some players from last year, everybody is aware of that. They do a great job of coaching. The games I've watched and the amount of tape I've watched from their defense, they are very sound. They've got guys that are more athletic and play better than what people give them credit for. There's a reason they won 10 games last year."

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