WACO, Texas — Cooper Bassett looked at the ground, clenched his jaw and cleared his throat.
Nothing held back his emotions.
“We didn't finish the way we wanted,” the Oklahoma State defensive lineman said, his eyes welling and his voice wavering. “We know that we're a lot better team than 7-5.”
“Unfortunately, our record doesn't reflect that. I'm proud of the way the guys fought. But ... ”
He sniffled again.
How did things go so bad so fast?
Less than two weeks ago, the Cowboys were in the running for a Big 12 championship. But after a 41-34 loss to Baylor, tears replaced smiles and questions outnumbered answers.
At the top of the list of unknowns — what happened to a Cowboy defense that played lights out only two weeks ago?
Remember that glorious Saturday, Cowboy fans? Texas Tech came to Stillwater with one of the nation's best offenses, and this OSU defense had its way. It got pressure. It got turnovers. It got stops.
Seems like so long ago now. Each of the past two weeks, the Cowboys gave up more than 600 yards. Oklahoma had 618 while Baylor had 615.
That's 1,233 yards in two weeks.
No doubt injuries had a hand in that. While injuries have been the story of this season, most of the notable ones have been on offense. But injuries have thinned the defense, too.
James Castleman was the latest player to go down. The defensive tackle suffered an undisclosed injury during the week and left a huge hole in the middle Saturday.
Brodrick Brown played, but the defensive back was so hurt that he didn't practice at all during the week.
Still, Bill Young and Co. allowing 6.5 yards a play won't cut it.
“We just helped them a little too much,” the Cowboy defense coordinator said.
He admitted what everyone could see — the pass coverage was too forgiving.
He and his coaches decided to give the Bears plenty of cushion after watching them on video running by so many defenders. Young didn't want to let the Baylor speedsters get behind his injury-thinned secondary.
“We went in there really trying to protect and not give up a cheap one,” he said. “Maybe played a little too soft.