“Really don't want to comment on that,” Young said.
But believe it. Defending the field deep and wide, like what is mandatory in the Big 12, can wear on a defense. Young estimated that Lowe and Gary, who both were sensational against Purdue, played 900 snaps in the regular season.
“That's way too many,” Young said. “They were so beat-up at the end of the year. This time off … they were fresh and ready to go. They were different players than they were at the end of the year.”
Now, let's not cut the Cowboy players short. Purdue has some strengths. Those tight ends and fullbacks aren't in there for show. They're on the field to knock your block off, and the Boilermakers tried. Tailback Akeem Shavers gained 93 yards on 14 carries.
“They could have very well got in there and knocked us off the ball,” Spencer said. “So that's what we worked on all bowl practices, was the physical part of that game.”
The Cowboys stayed tough. They pitched a shutout until the last minute of the third quarter, produced five turnovers (three via fumbles on strips and one interception off a tipped pass) and sacked quarterback Robert Marve thrice.
The OSU defensive showing was such that Purdue interim coach Patrick Higgins said, “I thought their defense is just as good as their offense.”
You haven't heard that phrase uttered about the Cowboys since, oh, 1985.
Marve is not a bad quarterback, but the Purdue receivers didn't show much, either in separation or ball skills. The Boilermakers actually had a decent scheme – some Marve throwbacks were downright spiffy – but the Cowboys just had better athletes.
“I think the overall speed of our football team … that's what made the difference,” Gundy said.
And so go the Cowboys into 2013 with renewed confidence, an 8-5 record and a defensive coordinator whose spirits were buoyed by a Big Ten offense.
Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at email@example.com. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.