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Oklahoma State tries to clean up penalty problems

Associated Press Modified: September 9, 2012 at 9:18 pm •  Published: September 9, 2012

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — After a penalty-filled game with too much time spent walking backward, Oklahoma State tumbled out of the Top 25 on Sunday to end the longest stretch as a ranked team in school history.

The Cowboys (1-1) put up 636 yards of total offense and lead the nation in that category after two weeks, but there was a series of equally awful statistics that overshadowed all that they did well.

"We had some missed assignments that we need to correct and there were a lot of good plays, but for the most part, it comes down to 167 yards of penalties and four turnovers," coach Mike Gundy said Sunday night.

The 167 yards in penalties were the most in school history, and Oklahoma State also was shaky with the ball as Wes Lunt threw three interceptions, Joseph Randle lost a fumble and seven passes were dropped by receivers.

After going 12-1 last season, it was a difficult loss to take for this year's squad. It ended a stretch of 24 straight games in the Top 25, the longest ever for OSU.

"They're down because they're not used to losing, but they have to get over that," Gundy said. "But I wouldn't want them to be any other way. I want them to feel responsible and accountable for what happened and then I want them to come back and be hungry ... The good thing is we don't have an open date."

The Cowboys were back at it Sunday night, trying to get all the mistakes corrected. Defensive coordinator Bill Young, who missed the past two games for medical reasons, was back at work although Gundy wasn't sure if he would be back full-time just yet.

Gundy said he didn't see the penalty problems coming. He had seen mostly clean football through training camp, when officials came out to oversee three scrimmages. And there were no such issues in an 84-0 walkover against Savannah State in the opener.

All last season, OSU never had more than 95 penalties in a game, although the 10 flags for 87 yards proved costly in the loss at Iowa State that kept the team from playing for the national championship.

On average, Oklahoma State was called for 5.5 penalties, amounting in 50.5 lost yards per game last season.

Fixing what went wrong is no exact science heading into Saturday night's game against Louisiana-Lafayette.

"You can't set up an individual drill to not get penalties, but our coaches have to be more cognitive of penalties that happen in practice and stopping and saying, 'We can't have this,' and coaching a little bit more than we have," Gundy said.

Gundy said he was glad he didn't see anyone on his team pointing fingers or assigning blame. Truly, the reasons for defeat could be spread all around.

While the offense didn't take care of the ball, the defense couldn't get stops. The turning point arguably was when defensive tackle Calvin Barnett took two 15-yard personal foul penalties on the same play, with Arizona finishing the drive with the first of 30 consecutive points.

"We need to learn from this and learn to play with adversity," Gundy said. "We have to coach and talk about it in practice. I think they'll be fine but if not, if we get guys guilty of too many bad penalties, we have to take them off the field."