OSU notebook: Defensive questions continue for coach Mike Gundy

BY JOHN HELSLEY AND JOHN ROHDE, Staff Writers, jhelsley@opubco.com; jrohde@opubco.com Published: October 31, 2011

The positives attached to this Oklahoma State football season are plentiful.

The Cowboys are 8-0 for just the second time in school history and for the first time since 1945. They're No. 3 in the BCS Standings and possess one of the top offenses in the country. And the exposure of their brand nationally has never been better.

Then there's the perceived sore spot: the defense.

OSU's critics are quick to point out the Cowboys' place in the defensive rankings: No. 111 of 120 in total defense, No. 101 in pass defense, No. 84 in rushing defense and No. 62 in scoring defense.

Cowboys coach Mike Gundy admits he's hardly satisfied.

“We've got to get better on defense,” Gundy said. “We've got to improve in certain areas of the kicking game (No. 111 in punt returns). Our players understand that. We've never said that we have all the answers on defense.

“One thing that I like with our team is we're very active, we play a number of players and I think they're fresh and they play hard.”

And they force turnovers, better than any other team in the country.

“They're flying around,” Gundy said. “They're around the ball a lot, and I think that contributes to our turnovers. We do give up some yards. We've given up some points, but for the most part, if you look at the defenses in our league, there are teams that are giving up quite a few yards and teams that are giving up quite a few points.

“We'll continue to get better. We'll try to correct mistakes. We need to be more sound.”

Baylor coach Art Briles, whose Bears were battered in Stillwater on Saturday, said what the Cowboys do right on defense shouldn't be overlooked in assessing the team's place in national title conversations.

“I think they're certainly a living testament to that (with) stops in the red zone and turnovers,” Briles said. “If people are moving the ball between the 10s, it doesn't really matter, as long as they're not scoring points.

“And Oklahoma State's really good offensively.”

RANDLE: RUN FIRST

Cowboys running back Joseph Randle poses a serious threat running and receiving.

The versatile Randle has 21 receptions to go with his team-high 842 rushing yards and 16 rushing touchdowns.



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