* Force up front. With Calvin Barnett and James Castleman, the Cowboys are better at defensive tackle than they've been since Kevin Williams and LaWaylon Brown were forces up front.
* Finally healthy. Lyndell Johnson, a hybrid linebacker/safety nickel back, is healthy after missing several games to injury. His speed and long arms and awareness in the passing game has keyed improved results on third down, an early sore spot, allowing the defense to get itself off the field.
* Improvement. So simple, yet so often overlooked. Players and units and teams can improve over the course of a season. For a first time starter like safety Shamiel Gary, or for formerly slumping corners Brodrick Brown and Justin Gilbert, practice work has ultimately paid dividends.
“I think it's all about the personnel,” said defensive coordinator Bill Young. “Our guys are playing better. We're able to get more pressure. We're a big pressure team anyway, and that makes a big difference for us.”
Remember the difference a year ago, when the Cowboys harassed OU's Landry Jones, forcing mistakes that swung Bedlam momentum into a 44-10 blowout.
“With Jones, he can air the ball out,” Lavey said. “Any time you can get him looking around, making sure he's not going to get hit with a little pressure on him, it's going to affect his passing. We're trying to do that every snap and take away the pass.
“They're a good team, a great offense. Our coaches will have a good game plan. All we have to do is play lights out.”