November 5, 2009

Dusting Off: OSU moves on from UT loss

When you're a Cowboy and get bucked off your horse, all you can do is stand up, dust yourself off, mount up and move on.

That's precisely where Oklahoma State is this week, after the Cowboys' 41-14 loss to Texas last weekend. In what was supposed to be a showdown for the Big 12 South driver's seat, OSU collapsed under the weight of too many mistakes and too many points scored by the Longhorns.

Now the Pokes are 6-2 (3-1 Big 12) and need to re-focus on finishing out the rest of the regular season in a strong way.

"We still have a lot of stuff to play for," Swanson Miller said. "Our season is not over. We're not going to play or practice as if our season is over. We're going to keep playing and keep practicing and get prepared for Iowa State."

But before too much talk is focused in on the Cyclones, who host the Cowboys for a 2:30 p.m. kickoff on ABC, one last look at the Horns is in order.

This loss stings for OSU in a number of ways. First off, losing at home always hurts, regardless of the quality of the opponent. But also, being reminded that your squad isn't quite ready for prime time hurts too, especially in a year with a pre-season top 10 ranking and massive expectations from the fan base. But lastly, looking back thinking you didn't give your all might hurt most of all.

"Overall, we lost and we lost as a team," Lucien Antoine said. "As a team, I think we could have played better because I know we are a better team than that. They came in ready to play. They are a good team and you've got to give them credit for that."

While Texas is very good, allowing four interceptions played a huge factor in the final score. Two INTs were pick sixes, while another set up a touchdown. Those 21 points gave the Horns a lot of breathing room. And for Zac Robinson, those picks could set up some mental road blocks this weekend, if he isn't careful.

"Zac will be fine," said head coach Mike Gundy. "Zac pressed. I've done that myself so I have a pretty good feel for what he did. We have complete confidence in his ability. When you're a good player at any level and you don't play well, there will always be a question come up, but he's a proven player for us. Zac's very stable and I would expect him to practice well and go compete. He just pressed. He tried to do a little bit too much and it cost him at times. The flip side of that, the guys that made those plays (for Texas) were good players."

"Every play was a little different," said offensive coordinator Gunter Brewer on Robinson's miscues. "Either the receiver was a little out of place or their guy made a great play like on the first one. Their guy made a tremendous play. Zac threw it in the right spot, the receiver is trying to get there and there are a couple things we could change technique-wise, but you've got to give them credit. It was man coverage and everybody has a right to the ball and their guy got to it before we did, unfortunately. On one of them, the guy had a great coverage and came off his guy and stepped underneath one. That was a different one. We tried to throw a ball in the middle of the field and probably threw it a little bit too late and it was one of those situations."

If there was a bright spot on the evening, it was the performance of the defense. OSU held UT to only 275 yards of total offense, 99 of that on the ground. Defensive Coordinator Bill Young had mixed feelings on the performance of his squad.

"I thought, at times, we really played outstanding and other times, we didn't play up to par," Young said. "When you play a team like Texas, you'd better be playing solid football every snap or they will take advantage of it."

While the ultimate stat for any team is the win-loss record, everyone in Orange Country has to like the stats related to team defense in 2009. So far this season, OSU ranks 45th in overall team defense, 47th in scoring defense and 13th in rushing defense. The weak link is against the pass, where OSU ranks 91st, but even then, the pass efficiency defense chimes in at 34th.

"When you consider who we're playing, I think that's really good," Young said of the stats. "You look at how many yards and points Houston has put on the board and Texas and A&M is awfully good offensively. We've played some really good offensive football teams.

"We're excited about the direction we're headed, but we're certainly not there yet. We've got a lot of work to do to get where we want to get to. We're proud of the effort the players have put forth. The down linemen have made a lot of progress. They're a very talented group. The good thing for us is we have several players. We're playing about 10 people. We're building a lot of depth and getting a lot of experience for the future."

And the future starts Saturday in Ames. Time to dust off, forget the UT game and move on.

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