COLUMBIA, Mo. — Jamie Blatnick revealed an Oklahoma State secret Saturday.
The Cowboys' uncanny ability to create turnovers, game after game, as if they're charmed or something?
“You get a little magic,” said the Cowboys defensive end, “and you sprinkle it over the defense…”
Don't believe in magic?
Some don't believe in the Cowboys D, either, even as they pile up turnovers — 24 in seven games now — contributing heavily to OSU's 7-0 start. It happened again Saturday, with four more takeaways highlighting a 45-24 romp past Mizzou.
For the nonbelievers, Cowboys linebacker Shaun Lewis has one word:
“Get the offense the ball, that's the main stat,” said Lewis, who personally halted two Tiger drives, one with an interception of a James Franklin pass batted by Blatnick, another with a scoop of a Franklin fumble created when Wilson Youman jarred the ball loose.
Both were followed by OSU touchdowns.
Get the offense the ball.
Focus, if you must, on Mizzou's final numbers: 463 total yards, including 248 on the ground.
“I mean, we don't want them to drive the field,” Lewis said, “but if they drive the field and we get a turnover, who wins that possession?
“That's all we care about.”
The Cowboys faced potential trouble prior to each of Lewis' takeaways.
Down 24-17 after grabbing some momentum late in the first half, the Tigers stopped OSU's initial drive of the third quarter, then clicked off two quick first downs. But after a Blatnick sack on first-and-10 at the MU 39, Lewis snatched the batted pass to set up the Cowboys offense at the 27.
Three plays later, touchdown, 31-17.
Later in the quarter, the Tigers marched to the OSU 4, threatening to again make it a one-touchdown game. But on second-and-goal, Youman stripped Franklin and Lewis was there to scoop up the bouncing ball and return it to the Mizzou 21.
Three plays later, touchdown, 38-17.
Richetti Jones and Brodrick Brown added fourth-quarter interceptions, snuffing out two more possessions.
Critics keep pointing to the Cowboys' takeaways as if they can't be counted on, as if they can't possibly keep coming.
Except they do, with at least turnovers collected in the last five games.
“They've done it every week,” said OSU receivers coach Doug Meacham, who admits that he's become accustomed to waiting for them on the sideline. “Maybe a little less pressure on us offensively, because we know our defense is going to bare down at some point and get a turnover. Every week.
“It is unbelievable. They bend a little, but they play sound defense and they pick their spots. And somebody steps up and makes a play.”
This is nothing new for the Cowboys, who have made a living of forcing turnovers since Bill Young took over as defensive coordinator. We've heard of all the emphasis on takeaways in practice and all the work that goes into it.
But doesn't everybody work hard on such things?
“I don't think everybody works as hard to get them as we work to get them,” said OSU safety Daytawion Lowe. “It's an everyday effort.”
Said Blatnick: “We know we're going to get the ball. Just believe it and it's going to happen for us.”
Must be magic.