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Oklahoma State football: Defending deep pass is where Cowboys need improvement

Coach Mike Gundy said cornerbacks Justin Gilbert, Brodrick Brown need to play “hungrier.”
By Gina Mizell Published: October 7, 2012
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photo - Texas' Mike Davis (1) can't hold on for the catch in front of Oklahoma State's Justin Gilbert (4) during a college football game between Oklahoma State University (OSU) and the University of Texas (UT) at Boone Pickens Stadium in Stillwater, Okla., Saturday, Sept. 29, 2012. Oklahoma State lost 41-36. Photo by Bryan Terry, The Oklahoman
Texas' Mike Davis (1) can't hold on for the catch in front of Oklahoma State's Justin Gilbert (4) during a college football game between Oklahoma State University (OSU) and the University of Texas (UT) at Boone Pickens Stadium in Stillwater, Okla., Saturday, Sept. 29, 2012. Oklahoma State lost 41-36. Photo by Bryan Terry, The Oklahoman

“So much depends on the team on these deep balls,” Young said. “You can just say, ‘Well, the corners are breaking down.' When in reality, with a great pass rush, you can fall down as a corner and you still don't have an issue.

“Nobody's feeling worse about the interference calls and the deep balls than (Brown and Gilbert) are, but at the same time, we need to do a much better job on the defensive line at rushing the passer.”

Gilbert said he personally needs to work on technique like controlling his eyes and “finishing the play,” such as that jump ball that Davis corralled over him.

And Gundy added Brown and Gilbert simply need to play hungrier.

“We were getting effort from them (in the UT game),” Gundy said. “But one thing that happens sometimes with veteran players is they get into almost a physical part where they're just kind of floating out there. They've done it so many times.

“Really, the best way to term it is they need to be hungry. They need to be hungry to defend those balls. They've been told that, they understand that.”

Young said that despite the troubles defending the downfield passing game, he does not expect OSU's scheme to change much, because the Cowboys have given multiple looks. Sometimes they play Tampa Cover 2. Sometimes they drop eight defenders into coverage. Sometimes they blitz.

Gilbert knows his team will need him, Brown and the rest of the defensive backs as the Cowboys head into the meat of their schedule, with teams that sport prolific offenses like West Virginia, Baylor, Oklahoma and Texas Tech still on the slate.

 

He also knows their reputation is, in a sense, on the line over these final eight games.

“For me, that last game, it brought something out of me that made me want to work even harder than I've been working,” Gilbert said. “I've been doing a little bit extra of everything that I've been working to do.

“For the rest of the season, I'm (going to be) a harder worker.”