October 18, 2008
OSU looks to avoid Bear trap
When your football team picks up a huge win and suddenly shoots to No. 8 in the nation, what do you, as a coach, fear the most?
A trap game.
And in this case, a Bear trap, as the usually-overlookable Baylor Bears are in Stillwater for a 2 p.m. Homecoming contest inside Boone Pickens Stadium. The game will not be televised.
After Oklahoma State's 28-23 upset over then-No. 2-ranked Missouri, the Cowboys shot up nine spots in the AP poll. That sent a flood of attention heading in the direction of a program which is typically forgotten in the rough and tumble Big 12 South. That meant mention on national television, print, websites and radio.
And with all that, a team not used to the attention can get tripped up soon after. With a huge game against top-ranked Texas looming, it could be a recipe for distraction against a squad that's often the league doormat.
But head coach Mike Gundy isn't worried about all that.
"I think our players have handled themselves very well," Gundy said. "I think they understand that you're only as good as your next game. Part of our job as coaches is to bring them back to earth. I got hit with a question (this week) about how long do we let them enjoy this. I don't think you ever take that from them. I think they will remember that game for the rest of their lives. So let them enjoy it and keep it in their pocket."
And we'll find out if the Pokes have been able to put this win behind them when they take on a Baylor squad which is improved from past seasons, but still not a program that demands much respect.
"They're playing very well," said Gundy of the Bears. "Offensively, they're very athletic with their quarterback. They're doing some really nice things moving the ball and scoring points. Defensively they're loading up to stop the run. Their free safety, Jordan Lake, may be as good a tackler as we have in the league. When backs or quarterbacks come through the front seven, he squares up and tackles very well. He tackled Dantrell Savage last year in open field, which is not an easy thing to do. He's a good player. By looking at the tape our players will understand that we have to work hard and prepare and get ready to play.
Linebacker Andre Sexton realizes that. He says being 6-0 and already reaching bowl eligibility is nice, but that OSU can't overlook anyone.
"Baylor is a really good team this year in everything that I have seen from them so far," Sexton said. "They have great talent. They are young. They are not a team that you just come out and take lightly, so we really have to come out and practice hard this week. We have to focus on correcting our mistakes and getting more pressure on the quarterback because that is going to be really important this week."
Something else important to Sexton? Growing as a team. He says he remembers the Cowboys being in situations where they've been up in games and thrown them away. With a top 10 ranking, an undefeated record and a chance at a huge season still on the table, he says things will finally work in their favor.
"We have the composure and maturity to pull off those games," Sexton said. "Like this week. The plan is we have to go after the quarterback early. We've got to put up points on offense. They can put up points, too, given the opportunity. We cannot take anyone lightly in the Big 12. It seems like anytime someone gets in the top 10, they slip out of there right away. We have to try to stay focused and move ahead like we want to."
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