By John Helsley
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Much is being made about all the rushing yards the Cowboys surrendered to Tulsa Sunday morning – early Sunday morning.
Indeed, the Golden Hurricane’s 365 rushing yards are alarming on the surface and should at least throw up a warning flag. Yet, too, they might deserve an asterisk.
Much of TU’s damage came after the Cowboys owned a commanding 45-6 lead in the third quarter. At that hour, somewhere after 2 a.m., you have to wonder about the focus of OSU’s defenders. Even Cowboys defensive coordinator Bill Young, who wasn’t at all pleased with the performance, allowed that some of his players admitted to zoning out to some extent mentally.
While still present physically in the press box, I had long zoned out, with my interest at a minimum concerning anything taking place on the field.
For now, I’ll go with OSU’s track record under Young, who has always been about stopping the run first. The Pokes stuffed the run against Arizona. They ranked No. 2 in the Big 12 and No. 37 nationally in rushing defense in 2010, allowing 133.7 yards a game, with Nebraska’s 217 the high.
And against A&M, in Stillwater, they gave up 126 on the ground on 44 carries, hardly a worrisome total (the passing total was another matter).
The Aggies, with Cyrus Gray and Christine Michael, will present the biggest run-game challenge the Cowboys will face this season. So we’ll know pretty quick if those TU stats were a warning flare of struggles to come.
Help is on the way for OSU, with linebacker Alex Elkins – held out against Tulsa – expected back, which should be a boost. Tyler Johnson, who has yet to play because of injury, could be ready as well.