Gundy said the Cowboys adjusted some alignments and techniques with the defensive line following those first two series, which led to OSU often plugging the interior and winning the physical battle in the trenches against a strong Mississippi State offensive line anchored by preseason All-American Gabe Jackson.
The linebackers also frequently pushed into the backfield, helping the Cowboys record 10 tackles for loss and three sacks. That pressure from the front seven let the defensive backs play the tighter coverage they advertised coming into the season, totaling six pass breakups and two interceptions.
Spencer also lauded the senior leadership all three levels of the defense, which includes the likes of Calvin Barnett, Shaun Lewis, Caleb Lavey, Daytawion Lowe and Justin Gilbert. And one of those seniors gave props to the guy calling plays.
“Guys were able to pin their ears back and go to the ball,” Lewis said. “Credit to our defensive coordinator, Glenn Spencer, he really helped us to think less out there. And we were able to play fast out there today.”
Spencer knows Saturday's performance was not perfect. He wished Gilbert and Shamiel Gary could have corralled possible interceptions that popped off their hands. He counted two occasions where the unit over-pursued and gave up a big play as a result.
Gundy, too, was quick to remind his team that, while the defense's performance was “awesome” Saturday, the unit needed to keep it up in October and November against the Big 12's potent spread offenses.
Spencer echoed those same thoughts. But he also didn't shy away from saying his players deserved to enjoy the evening.
Even if their coach was the first to bolt off the field after their dominating performance was over.
“Our guys have taken a lot of beatings over the years,” Spencer said. “They know it's just one game, but at least for one night — for one night — they can be proud of what they did. I sure am proud of them. For one night, they can say, ‘Hey, we did our part to win a game.'
“And maybe they'll love that feeling and that taste so much that they want to do it again and again.”