Consecutive losses prompt OSU soul-searching

Monday, October 2nd 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

STILLWATER, Okla. (AP) -- There is a lot of soul-searching going on in the Cowboy camp.

After two straight defeats -- including Saturday's 42-7 wrangling by the Texas Longhorns -- the tune being hummed by Oklahoma State coach Bob Simmons is no melodic prairie serenade.

"I don't want to play the way we're playing now," Simmons said Monday. "We've got to step it up on offense, we've got to find solutions on defense -- not get the ball thrown over our heads -- and get our special teams back to being consistent."

For a time Saturday, it looked like OSU (2-2) was on the right track, trailing No. 11 Texas 10-7 early in the third quarter.

Then came the pass -- a 96-yard touchdown from Major Applewhite to a wide-open Roy Williams that energized the Texas crowd and paralyzed OSU's defense.

That touchdown was caused by a blown assignment in OSU's zone defense. But the five unanswered Texas scores that followed were the fault of the whole defense, said OSU cornerback Elbert Craig.

"Playing DB, that's the hardest position on the field. You're going to get beat, but you've got to forget about it," Craig said.

The defense is an easy scapegoat, perhaps, but not the only source for blame in the Cowboys' current situation. OSU quarterback Tony Lindsay completed just one-third of his passes against the Longhorns, while kicker Seth Condley missed a 32-yard field goal and had a 38-yard attempt blocked.

Four times the Cowboys offense started drives in Longhorn territory, scoring just once.

It was enough to send OSU offensive tackle Josh Lind to the golf course Sunday to try to come up with answers for an offense that hasn't scored a second-half touchdown all season.

"We're kind of sporadic. At times we'll come out and move the ball like we really know what we're doing and at times we'll come out and just shoot ourselves in the foot," Lind said.

In fact, Simmons said he's looking at who's carrying the six-shooters on this Cowboy squad. He's promising a full-scale evaluation on both sides of the ball, and said the team's starting lineup could be changing by the time OSU travels to Missouri Saturday.

"It's my responsibility as well as my coaches' to sit down and say, 'How can we get this changed? Here is what we've done, and it's not working. So how can we get the kind of positive change that's going to help the football team?"'

Missouri (1-3) is having trouble of its own, having lost three straight games to ranked opponents. Starting quarterback Kirk Farmer is out of the lineup after breaking his collarbone in the Tigers' 42-24 loss to No. 2 Nebraska Saturday, leaving Darius Outlaw to make his first collegiate start against OSU.

While that nightmare scenario should give OSU players a better perspective on their own situation, Lind said the skies are not all cloudy above the Cowboys' practice facility.

"We all have pretty good head on our shoulders and we're going to stay positive," Lind said.

"We played highly ranked teams these last two weeks. We thought we could beat them. We didn't. Let's move on to play Missouri.

That's how we look at it," he said.