From Week 1 to Week 2, the Cowboys defense prepared for completely different offenses.
Mississippi State presented a more rugged, ground-oriented challenge, while UTSA spread the field with multiple receivers and a dual-threat quarterback.
This week, however, OSU won't need to make major adjustments. Lamar looks a lot like UTSA, as well as several Big 12 teams, including the Cowboys.
“It's very similar again,” said Cowboys defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer. “They'll go three- and four-wide and use play-action. We call them pop passes. They'll try to run on the perimeter with reads and sweeps, too.
“It's an equalizer as far as talent goes when you can spread out the field. It's challenging, but it's similar to what we do, so it's not like it's a whole new offense we're preparing for.”
Through two games, the Cowboys have produced four turnovers — all interceptions — adding a takeaway element to what has been solid defensive performances.
“We just stress getting a lot of people around the ball, so when one does come loose, we can have a guy there to get the turnover. Zack Craig made a great hit on the first turnover, and Shaun Lewis was breaking on the ball.
“If he wasn't doing that, the ball may have dropped to the ground. Ryan Simmons was in coverage on his (interceptions) and did a great job of being where he was supposed to be. I always look at the ones we missed. We could have had another one, but we dropped it. It's just trying to be opportunistic, but it's also your effort getting to the ball that can cause those things to happen.”
CRAIG'S BIG GAME TIMELY
When starting safeties Daytawion Lowe and Shamiel Gary were banged up in the Cowboys' rout of UTSA, it cleared the way for Craig to play significant snaps.
And he turned in a significant performance, totaling seven tackles and two pass breakups.
Better yet, it was back home, as Craig played high school ball at nearby Smithson Valley.
“To go in there and play a lot, and make a few plays, especially in my hometown, was special,” Craig said.
The senior safety said an estimated 30 friends and family were there in the Alamodome.
“It was a really big deal for them,” he said. “Obviously, it's just another game for me. For the guys who can't drive up there from San Antonio, nine hours, it meant a lot to them.
“Normally, for games it's my parents and my brother and my sister. Maybe a few other people every once in a while, if they're in the area. So to have all those people there and play the way I did, it was a great experience.”
BY JOHN HELSLEY