NORMAN ï¿½ With OSU's offense going nowhere Saturday, hope spun for Perrish Cox to provide a momentum-changing play in the kicking game.
He knew his cue, too, with plans to oblige, as he so often has in his Cowboys career.
"Special teams is one of the things where our team looks for me to flip the game," Cox said.
Except Cox was as anemic as his offensive cohorts, unable to provide even a minor spark, let alone ignite a comeback.
Cox, the Big 12 record holder for career kickoff return yards, managed but 48 yards on three tries against the Sooners. Twice, he failed to reach the 20.
Ranked 22nd nationally in punt returns, Cox struggled to handle OU punter Tress Way's big boots, totaling but six yards on the two balls he got his hands on.
"It was frustrating," Cox said. "It just didn't work the way we planned it."
Way averaged 58.8 yards a punt Saturday, with Cox failing to field several.
There were factors at play, including a stiff south wind measured at 20 mph that made the ball dance in the air. Injuries also affected OSU's special teams, forcing backups into action. And Way was having a career day, booming kicks into the wind as well as with it.
"We really didn't know that he could kick that well," Cox said. "It's kind of hard to judge a left-foot kicker also. He just did his thing today.
"(The wind) was totally difficult. He's kicking a major ball. A left-foot kicker, the ball rotates different than a right-foot kicker. Into the wind, it was very difficult."
Cox was forced to make some decisions, too. To field or not to field the ball, whether on the fly or on the bounce.
"It was kind of a poor decision to let those punts bounce around," Cox said, "but it was tough today to field those punts."
Meanwhile, Way was well aware of Cox, who just a week ago took a punt back 67 yards for a touchdown against Colorado.
"The first time I saw ever saw him returning he was on the Top 10 (plays) on ESPN for that return against Colorado," Way said. "So I'm like, 'Here it goes. Gotta hang that thing in the air for the guys to get down there.'
"A couple times he had a chance to get it and run, but our guys just got down there and swarmed him."
Cox, who has struck such fear into enemy coaches that they've pooched and angled and squibbed kicks away from him, was a non-factor.
"When you can't convert offensively and you can't keep the defense off the field and get in a rhythm and then you lose the special teams battle," said Cowboys coach Mike Gundy, "it's extremely difficult to win."
Everything was difficult Saturday.
The Cowboys typically count on a check mark in the special teams matchup, offering them a wild card for winning.
They couldn't even count on that against OU.
"We got beat," Cox said, "big time."