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OSU football notebook: Turnover numbers exceed Bill Young's expectations

Cowboys have 42 take-aways this season, which tops the nation heading into the Fiesta Bowl on Monday.
BY GINA MIZELL, Staff Writer, gmizell@opubco.com Published: December 29, 2011
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Forcing turnovers has been the well-documented focus of the Oklahoma State defense this season.

The Cowboys use two whistles in practice. They run when they don't take the ball away enough. They constantly talk about the importance of turnovers.


But OSU's 42 take-aways, the top total in the nation heading into Monday's Fiesta Bowl, has even exceeded the expectations of defensive coordinator Bill Young. His realistic goal for the No. 3 Cowboys this season was somewhere in the 30s.

“This is the most turnovers we've ever been around,” Young said. “It has really been a blessing to get this many.”

Brodrick Brown and James Thomas have each played a role in seven turnovers this season. Brown has five interceptions and two fumble recoveries, while Thomas has four picks, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery.

HIGH PRAISE FOR JUSTIN BLACKMON

Members of the Stanford defense spoke to the media on Wednesday, where there was, understandably, high praise for Justin Blackmon.

Stanford co-defensive coordinator Derek Mason compared the two-time Biletnikoff winner to a familiar athlete in the Valley —Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald. Mason saw Fitzgerald in person two seasons in a row when he was a defensive backs assistant for the Minnesota Vikings from 2007-09.

“That's what he reminds me of — a Fitzgerald or a T.O. (Terrell Owens), just in terms of his ball skills and his ability to make plays,” Mason said. “He can go over, around or through you to get the football.

“For us, it's important that we understand where he is, but by the same token, we've got to play our defense. And our defense relies on us being able to put hands on him when we can and understanding where your help is at all times and making sure that when he gets the ball in his hands, we tackle him.”

Outside linebacker Chase Thomas said Blackmon reminds him of another Pro-Bowl receiver — the Lions' Calvin Johnson. He noted that even though Blackmon is 6-foot-1 and 215 pounds, he looks and plays like he's 6-foot-5 and 230 pounds in pads.

YOUNG FAMILIAR WITH NO. 1 DRAFT PICKS

The Cowboy defense will go up against the future No. 1 overall pick in the NFL Draft, Andrew Luck, in the Fiesta Bowl.

Young could not remember if he has ever faced the top pick in the draft before, but he has coached one during his career.

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