Simmons says team must be flawless to beat Southern Miss

Tuesday, September 19th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

STILLWATER, Okla. (AP) _ Better execution will be mandatory if Oklahoma State expects to beat No. 22 Southern Mississippi on Saturday, Cowboys coach Bob Simmons said Monday.

The home game will be Oklahoma State's first test against a ranked opponent in the young season and could define just how good the Cowboys (2-0) really are after a 23-0 win over Division I-AA Southwest Texas (1-2) on Saturday.

Southern Mississippi (1-1) comes off a 21-0 upset win over Alabama. The Golden Eagle lost to Tennessee 19-16 two weeks ago.

Simmons said his squad will work this week to find ways to move the ball against a Southern Mississippi defense that held Alabama to 217 total yards and 95 on the ground.

Southern Mississippi's defense scored two of the team's three touchdowns against the Crimson Tide.

Cowboys quarterback Tony Lindsay threw 193 yards and running back Reggie White rushed for 130 yards against the Bobcats.

But the offense failed at times to communicate, run proper routes and get the ball to the right players, Simmons said.

Proper execution will be the key against Southern Mississippi's stingy defense, he said.

``The issue is being disciplined enough when you get in a ball game to do what you're told to do,'' Simmons said.

White fumbled twice, including once into the Southwest Texas end zone in the second quarter.

Simmons said White, who has 317 yards on the ground in two games, was upset about his fumbles. The junior from Liberty, Texas, has not been prone to cough up the football and Simmons said he's not making a big issue of the mistakes to avoid rattling White's confidence.

``It's an issue that you address and obviously it can be corrected,'' Simmons said.

Oklahoma State players said they are looking forward to the challenge of playing Southern Mississippi, which is 0-9 against Big 12 teams.

The Cowboys defense limited the Bobcats to 141 yards total offense and just 36 on the ground.

But Southern Mississippi will present a bigger offensive challenge,

Derrick Nix rushed for 80 yards against Alabama in Birmingham. Quarterback Jeff Kelly was 14-of-23 for 159 yards.

The Cowboys beat Tulsa 36-26 in the season opener.

``A lot of people are questioning how good we are, playing Tulsa and playing Southwest Texas State,'' defensive tackle Zac Akin said. ``Southern Miss will be a good measuring stick.''

Offensive guard Bryan Phillips said the Golden Eagle is Oklahoma State's first real test. But he said he and his fellow blockers look forward to the challenge.

``If we're holding the defensive line off long enough Tony is going to find somebody open or if we open up a hole big enough Reggie's going to be one-on-one against the safety,'' Phillips said.