The Cowboys' goal each practice is to force five. If not, they run. Their reasoning is that production should translate to game situations.
“At least five turnovers a game,” Lavey clarified. “I would be happy with six.”
Those big plays came against a K-State offense that looked largely different than it has this season.
The Wildcats were missing arguably their two biggest playmakers in Tyler Lockett, who left the game early with an apparent leg injury, and Tramaine Thompson, who missed the game for an undisclosed reason. And Daniel Sams, who had primarily been used as a change-up quarterback, took the bulk of the snaps.
Sams' dual-threat ability allowed an early “power pop pass,” where Sams looked like he would run and then threw the ball to fullback Glenn Gronkowski, who rumbled 67 yards for a score. After that, coordinator Glenn Spencer said the Cowboys switched to playing more base defense.
And when OSU could force K-State into situations where it had to throw — Sams had tossed just four passes coming into Saturday's game — Spencer felt his players would be in the right spot to create turnovers.
“Our guys just had great eyes on the quarterback and made nice breaks,” Spencer said. “That's stuff we practice. It's just great to see us come through.”
The OSU offense continued to sputter Saturday, other than a quick eight-play, 75-yard drive late in the fourth that put the Cowboys ahead for good and earned praise from Spencer.
But don't bother to tell the defenders about those struggles. They don't care.
They rarely even pay any attention to the offense. They're plenty busy on the bench with Spencer, making adjustments and keeping themselves motivated.
That mentality won't change as the Cowboys head into their second bye week, where offensive corrections will certainly be addressed.
“We've got a lot of older guys on defense, so we know it's not our job to worry about the offense,” Lavey said. “Whether we're winning, losing, tied, we have the same job: get the ball back, stop the opposing offense and create turnovers.
“It's not frustrating. We have plenty of faith in our offense and we just know what our job is and keep on grinding.”