STILLWATER — Whenever Oklahoma State fans think of the Cotton Bowl, visions of interceptions still race through their heads.
The Cowboys had six offensive possessions and six turnovers — including four interceptions — in the final quarter of 21-7 loss to Ole Miss. But that game told the story of all four OSU losses in 2009.
In those four setbacks, OSU turned the ball over 18 times including four interceptions each against Texas and Ole Miss. And statistically, the risk of interceptions will be even higher this season.
The Cowboys could easily double their pass attempts per game from 25.8 per game in 2009 in new offensive coordinator's Dana Holgorsen's spread attack.
Twenty or 30 additional chances for big plays; 20 or 30 additional chances for mistakes.
"The ball will be in the air (more)," receiver Justin Blackmon said. "Hopefully we'll be on the same page as Brandon (Weeden), which we are, and he knows where to put the ball. We have to catch it and not have deflections or missed ball."
In Holgorsen's two seasons at Houston, the Cougars were unstoppable — unless they turned it over. In 2009, the Cougars led the nation in passing offense, scoring offense and total offense but ranked No. 84 in interceptions thrown (15) and No. 83 in total turnovers (26). In 2008, Houston finished No. 42 in interceptions thrown (11) and No. 93 in total turnovers (28).
It's a concern that Holgorsen addresses daily.
"Every day we talk about turnovers and penalties," Blackmon said. "We do up-downs after practice if we have any turnovers. He really stresses that."
But turnovers and ball security aren't the only drive killers.
"It's not just interceptions, we have been preaching about playing smart," Holgorsen said. "The two things I talk about are penalties, especially pre-snap penalties that's something that just must be eliminated, and taking care of the football. We work on taking care of the ball every day, typically first games are won by the team with the least turnovers."
Junior quarterback Brandon Weeden will be the trigger man in the offense and his decision making will be critical if the Cowboys want to limit their interceptions and overall turnovers.
But it's not all on Weeden.
"We trust Brandon to make good decisions," Holgorsen said. "(But) when (the ball) is in the air it's the receiver's job to catch it or make sure they don't."
Said Blackmon: "That's the No. 1 rule. If you can't catch the ball you're supposed to turn into a defender and knock it down. (A interception) is as much our fault as it is Brandon's fault."
Turnover tales A major concern with any offense is turnovers. Here's a look at the fumbles, interceptions and total turnovers by offenses run by Dana Holgorsen since 2005. Year, Team, Fumbles, Interceptions, Total Turnovers 2009, Houston, 11, 15,26 2008, Houston, 17, 11, 28 2007, Texas Tech, 11, 15, 26 2006, Texas Tech, 13, 11, 24 2005, Texas Tech, 7, 12, 19 Cupcakes and turnovers Dana Holgorsen's offense brings a certain amount of risk and reward. The reward is record-setting scoring and eye-popping passing numbers the risk is turnovers particularly interceptions. Here's a look at the best and worst days (in relation to turnovers) during Holgorsen's last two seasons at Houston: Best Year, Opponent, TD, TO, Score 2009, Tulane, 6, 0, W 44-16 2009, SMU, 5, 0, W 38-15 2009, Memphis ,8,0 ,W 55-14 2009, Rice, 10, 0, W 73-14 2008, Tulsa, 10, 1, W 70-30 2008, UTEP, 6, 1, W 42-37 2008, UAB, 6, 1, W 45-20 2008, Southern, 7, 1, W 55-3 Worst Year, Opponent, TD, TO, Score 2009, Air Force ,2 ,6 ,L 47-20 2009, East Carolina, 5 ,4 ,L 38-32 2009, Central Florida ,4 ,3 ,L 37-32 2009 ,So. Miss ,6 ,3 ,W 50-43 2008, Colorado St., 3, 4 ,L 28-25 2008, East Carolina, 5, 4, W 41-24 2008, Marshall, 3, 3, L 37-23 2008 ,Air Force, 4, 3, W 34-28 Compiled by Brandon Chatmon