And the emphasis on takeaways starts in practice, as Carroll suggested.
The Cowboy defenders spend about 15 minutes each day working specifically on forcing turnovers. That does not include team drills, where the defensive goal is to get five takeaways.
If they don't reach that mark, the OSU defenders must run.
“That's enough motivation to get as many as you can,” Lowe said. “You never want to run after practice.”
Kansas State, which visits Stillwater on Saturday, might present the toughest challenge yet for OSU's ball-hawking defense, as the 7-1 Wildcats are tied for fifth in the nation in fewest turnovers (eight).
But the Cowboys faced a similar task last week in Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III. He had tossed just two interceptions before going up OSU's defense. Against the Cowboys, he threw two picks in the first half.
“It's definitely a motivational thing,” Lewis said. “Anytime an offense is good with taking care of the ball, we look at that as a challenge.”
Young and Gundy have both stressed that they would like to see the Cowboys give up less yards. But they also both embrace the Cowboys' defensive identity as an opportunistic bunch of playmakers.
“We also have a philosophy that the harder you work, the luckier you get,” Young said. “We work extremely hard at forcing turnovers—it's not by accident that we're getting them.
“Some of them, no question about it, it's fortunate. But most of them are earned.”