By Nick Snow
CNHI News Service
STILLWATER – A week after Arizona’s offense torched Oklahoma State’s defense for 501 yards and 59 points in a loss, the Cowboys have been on a mission.
It’s safe to say, that mission was accomplished Saturday at Boone Pickens Stadium against Louisiana-Lafayette.
“Oh yeah, everything was hurting,” Oklahoma State junior safety Daytawion Lowe said. “Any time you lose, you’re always hurting. Nobody wants to lose. Everybody wants to win, so that loss really hurts.”
The Cowboys held the Ragin’ Cajuns to 24 points and 376 total yards — with most of those points coming in the second half after the first-team defense had already given way to the reserves.
“Obviously the defense played good,” Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy said. “They gave up 10 points for the most part. I thought we were tighter. I thought we had more pressure on the quarterback. ... There were times that they let go of the ball in the first half and as soon as they did we hit them. We had better pressure and were tighter on the outside.”
It wasn’t just about being tighter and putting more pressure on the quarterback. It was about showing the country that what happened in Arizona was a fluke.
“We really wanted to come out today and just get the bad taste out of our mouth,” Oklahoma State senior defensive end Cooper Bassett said. “Last week was kind of a Murphy’s Law for us. Everything that could go wrong did go wrong last week.
“We just wanted to play a fundamental, hard-nosed, disciplined game that was efficient and well-run, and we did that. It was nice coming out there and not having any turnovers. We wished we could have caused more on defense, but we played fundamental defense and it showed on the scoreboard.”
Those fundamentals were something Oklahoma State defensive coordinator Bill Young and the Cowboys’ staff stressed in practice this week.
“It was nice to go out there,” Bassett said. “We had everyone on the sideline and everyone on the field screaming and cheering for each other, but also screaming to do the little things right. Everyone was focused. We didn’t have to worry about trying to get people focused or yell at someone for goofing off. Everyone had a focused mindset and everyone was working for the same goal.”
Working on the fundamentals may have been part of the difference in the win over Louisiana, but Young said there was something else different about his team. They came out with more of an attitude — the good kind, not the kind that led to so many personal fouls against Arizona.
“We played much better, we really did,” Young said. “We were much better on our assignments, we played with an attitude and we chased the football.”
Whether or not the Cowboys can carry that attitude through the bye week and into the game against Texas remains to be seen. The attitude may be new and the focus may be more centralized, but Lowe says that the loss to Arizona will continue to haunt the Cowboys for the rest of the season.
“We got off our focus a little bit and what we set as our goals for us at the beginning of the spring,” Lowe said. “I think we’re going to remember that loss every time we take the field. It’s always going to be in the back of our minds because we know that it messed up our season.”
– Nick Snow is a sports reporter for The Stillwater NewsPress.