No easy answers for Cowboys, Simmons says

Tuesday, October 31st 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

STILLWATER, Okla. (AP) _ What has already been a difficult road doesn't get any easier for Oklahoma State's football team this week.

The Cowboys, losers of five straight, play host to a Texas A&M team that is 6-2 and in the running for the Big 12 South Division title.

While preparing for a quality opponent, Oklahoma State and coach Bob Simmons have to try to figure out a way to correct the problems that have sent the team into a tailspin.

Those problems were evident in the first half Saturday against Colorado, when the Cowboys gave up 398 yards and fell behind 30-7. The performance so frustrated sophomore linebacker Terrence Robinson that he chewed out the defensive players at halftime and challenged them to play better.

``I felt that we needed some sort of leadership to pick us all up. We came out with no fire,'' Robinson said Monday. ``I felt that I needed to say something so we could all be on the same page.''

The Cowboys played much better in the second half, allowing just seven points. Robinson said he wasn't trying to be critical of his teammates, but instead was saying what he felt had to be said.

Simmons said he appreciated Robinson's remarks.

``It's good when your team members or some of your team members see it the way you see it and just speak to the issues,'' Simmons said at his weekly news conference.

``For me, the issue was not the effort. It was the fact that we were not making plays, the fact that we missed some assignments. That was a big part of the first half, and that was what I think he was speaking to.

``From a player's standpoint, it looked like we weren't flying around. You watch the film, it wasn't a question of flying around. It was a question of being in the right place and a question of doing what you're assigned to do.''

One might have expected a more veteran player to step forward, but Simmons said it didn't bother him that it was a sophomore who felt the need to speak up.

``He's a very quiet guy,'' Simmons said. ``Sometimes, you think an older kid's going to do it, a guy that's been around for four years. Here's a young guy that said, `Listen men, here's what we've got to do.' I respect the fact that he did that.''

The Cowboys (2-5, 0-4 Big 12) have left themselves no wiggle room if they hope to finish with a winning record. They must win their remaining games, beginning Saturday.

Robinson said he feels his teammates have enough pride that they will rebound from Saturday's performance and play well against A&M. As other players have said this year, Robinson said the talent on campus isn't a concern.

``We feel that we can play with anybody on the schedule, and there's no doubt about that,'' he said.

The answer, Simmons said, is to get those players to properly carry out their assignments. He said part of that falls on the coaches, and part of it rests with the players.

``I've told the team that until we stop doing these kinds of things, we're going to always struggle,'' he said. ``What's the answer? I wish I could tell you. Just continue to coach 'em and be hopeful that you'll get guys that understand it and make plays for you.''