Beckman Wants Drastic Improvement From Oklahoma State Defense

Wednesday, September 26th 2007, 2:52 pm
By: News On 6

STILLWATER, Okla. (AP) _ Tim Beckman doesn't take much satisfaction from the most recent performance by his Oklahoma State defense, even if it did have a happy ending.

The Cowboys (2-2) yielded a school-record 718 yards Saturday, but slowed Texas Tech down just enough in the second half to emerge with a 49-45 victory.

``I've never been in this situation, so I don't like giving up that many points or that many yards,'' said Beckman, Oklahoma State's first-year defensive coordinator. ``A win's a win and I love wins, but I don't like giving up that amount of yards.''

The unwanted record came after Beckman had stripped all of his defensive players of their black jerseys, an honor recognizing their solid performance in practice. He said one requirement for the jerseys is that players must grade out over a three-game span, and that hadn't happened.

``You've got to earn that jersey,'' Beckman said. ``That jersey isn't given to you forever.''

Now, the players must work to regain those jerseys and find the type of form they'll need so any future wins don't have to come in a shootout. Linebackers Chris Collins and Patrick Lavine, cornerback Jacob Lacey and defensive end Nathan Peterson were able to earn back their black jerseys Saturday, but there's still plenty of work to be done.

``The good thing is this game's behind us _ 700 yards or whatever, I don't care, we won,'' Peterson said. ``It's a win for us. We're 1-0 in Big 12 play. That's the most important thing.''

If there's some silver lining in the defense's actual play, it's that Texas Tech was able to score on only two of its eight second-half possessions after getting touchdowns on five of six first-half drives.

The Cowboys forced two fumbles and other second-half drives ended on a missed field goal and when receiver Michael Crabtree couldn't handle a potential game-winning pass that was slightly deflected by Oklahoma State cornerback Ricky Price.

``Our goal from here would probably be to start sooner. Obviously it took us too long to start playing good defense,'' Peterson said. ``That's something we need to focus on is to be self-starters, start from the first quarter and play good defense throughout the game.''

Coach Mike Gundy has repeatedly said this season that the primary defensive issue is a lack of pressure on the quarterback because ``it's difficult to defend downfield in the throwing game for more than 5 seconds.'' Other than two sacks by Peterson, Gundy counted only three other times that Tech quarterback Graham Harrell was harassed on 67 pass attempts.

His defensive coordinator believes it's more complex than just getting pressure.

``We've got to play better as a whole,'' Beckman said. ``Not just the front four, but as a whole.''

Beckman said Oklahoma State's defenders seem to be developing a bad habit of trying to cover for their teammates instead of sticking to their own responsibilities, and that leads to more holes.

``Sometimes I think the kids try to make too big of plays instead of just playing what they're supposed to play,'' Beckman said. ``That's the thing that we've got to mold them out of.''

Beckman said other problems came up when players got out of position, even if only by a couple steps, and _ perhaps more strangely _ when defenders fell down three different times while taking a bad angle.

That helped Harrell rack up the fourth-highest passing total in major college football history, which in turn dropped Oklahoma State to 116th in the nation in pass defense. Only three teams have worse marks.

This Saturday, the Cowboys face Sam Houston State, which has averaged 281.7 yards passing mostly off the arm of former Oklahoma quarterback Rhett Bomar. Bomar threw for 358 yards and four touchdowns in the Bearkats' last game _ a 41-38 loss at North Dakota State, a fellow member of the Football Championship Subdivision (formerly I-AA).

It could help that starting cornerback Martel Van Zant is expected to be closer to 100 percent after trying to play through a toe injury last week, but Collins and safety Andre Sexton are also fighting through minor injuries.

``We've got to go back to the basics and get back to the basic things we do, and go back to things that have been successful for us and strive on doing those even better than we've been doing,'' Beckman said. ``Any time you give up the number of yards we gave up, you've got to make drastic improvement. There's no question about it.''