In Littlehead's case, Gundy said the sophomore had simply been passed on the depth chart by the likes of Calvin Barnett, James Castleman, Antony Rogers and Collins. Defensive coordinator Bill Young added that coaches “intentionally” did not play Littlehead, but did not expand any further.
“Anytime the game's on the line, you need your best players in the ballgame,” Young said. “Particularly, the closer they get to your goal line, you need to make sure of that.
“We talk to our players all the time, ‘If you need to sub out, make sure you sub out on the plus side of the 50.' The closer they get to our goal line, we need our best players in there.”
And some of the more inexperienced players simply were not ready for a tight game in a hostile road environment. Monken added there were no receivers he wished he would have played Saturday, except perhaps for Moore.
“Could Austin Hays have played a little bit more, knowing what to do and given us a break? Probably,” Monken said. “Because he's further ahead mentally, yes. Blake Webb gets out there and does some things athletically.
“But with all of our younger guys, it's 50-50 (when they're doing the right thing and not). They're improving. Hoping this week it'll be 60-40. Maybe we'll get to 65-35 and get to where they can function.
“But right now, you're not always sure they're in the right spot. You're not always sure how they're going to adjust from a football awareness standpoint to a coverage, and especially when you're down.”
With the Cowboys returning home to Boone Pickens Stadium this week to face Louisiana-Lafayette, a team they beat 61-34 in 2011 and 54-28 in 2010, it appears there will likely be a chance for more players to get involved and keep developing in a game situation.
That's what Rush expects.
“I think this week, you'll see a lot more of us rolling guys,” he said. “And you'll see the depth that we have, that we've been telling you about.”