Share “Oklahoma State football: Cowboys...”

Oklahoma State football: Cowboys determined to turn takeaways into touchdowns

by John Helsley Published: October 29, 2013

Defenders aren't taught the finer points of blocking. In the excitement of the play, guys often get carried away in seek-and-destroy mode.

Yet Gundy uses practice time to at least emphasize the importance of not drawing a flag.

“What Mike's done a nice job of in practice is when we've had those opportunities, he's allowed us to stress it,” Spencer said. “And he stresses it, too. Hopefully it's always in the forefront of their mind.

“It's something you can't practice a lot, but you hope with smart kids and you emphasis it each time it happens, ‘Hey, just remember, no blocking below the waist, no one blocking behind the ball, it's not a factor … Just don't do anything stupid.'”

The Cowboys have made a habit of gaining turnovers in recent years, consistently ranking among the nation's best in takeaways. After falling off in 2012, they're back at it this season, leading the Big 12 at 2.7 takeaways per game and ranking No. 13 nationally with 19 total takeaways through seven games.

Big returns have provided highlights, too.

Before his interception at Iowa State, Gilbert had a 34-yard return of a pick in the team's 24-10 win over TCU.

In another win over Kansas State, Shaun Lewis' 24-yard interception return set up a key late field goal. And Daytawion Lowe's 72-yard interception return allowed OSU to run out the clock on a 33-29 verdict.

Ryan Simmons' 27-yard interception return led to a touchdown at UTSA.

Defensive scores aren't easy to come by and can't be counted on. Still, the Cowboys are coaching and playing to expect them.

And when they happen, it can turn a game upside down.

“You've got the turnover and turnovers are huge,” Spencer said. “But to score, that's even more demoralizing.

“I've been on the flip side of it and it's no fun. You've given up points and you weren't even on the field to do anything about it.”

While OSU rates among the Big 12's best at taking the ball away, the Red Raiders rank ninth in turnover margin and have committed 19 turnovers. The Cowboys maximized their turnovers at Iowa State. And now that Johnson and Gilbert have their TDs, the hunger to reach the end zone is spreading.

“That's what we've been talking about, scoring on defense,” Lowe said. “We finally got to pull that off, so hopefully we can keep it going.”