The Oklahoman

Cowboys’ defense is outstandin­g again

- Berry Tramel

OSU beat Baylor 24-14 Saturday night, and the Cowboy report card shows outstandin­g defense, some offensive struggles and a key kickinggam­e success.

First-down defense: A

Baylor’s offense came into the game having excelled on first-down snaps. But OSU’s defense consistent­ly put the Bears into second-and-long. Baylor ran the ball nine times on first down but made just 29 yards on those plays and five times made less than four yards. Baylor quarterbac­k Gerry Bohanon completed just four of 11 first-down passes, for 55 yards, plus a defensive interferen­ce penalty. Most of the damage came on a 40-yard deep ball to Drew Estrada, who beat OSU cornerback Korie Black.

Running game: B

In the first quarter, OSU gained 114 yards on its 20 running plays, including 60 yards on 12 carries from Jaylen Warren. But the rest of the game, Warren gained just 65 yards on 24 carries, and OSU gained just 105 yards on its 32 called running plays over those final three quarters. The 219 yards on 52 called running plays is 4.2 yards per carry; not great but in the neighborho­od of what Mike Gundy wants.

Containing Bohanon: B

Bohanon came into the game having completed 73% of his passes, with no intercepti­ons. But the Cowboys feared his scrambling ability more than his passing. OSU did a decent job limiting both. Bohanon completed 13 of 27 passes for 173 yards, but two of those completion­s accounted for 44 and 40 yards. Otherwise, the Baylor passing game was minimal. Bohanon was sacked thrice (twice by freshman defensive end Collin Oliver) and rarely was allowed to scramble to find a receiver. Bohanon did scramble for gains of six and seven yards, and he made nine yards on a quarterbac­k draw.

Kick return prevention: A

Baylor’s Trestan Ebner is a premier kickoff and punt returner. His two big returns helped the Bears upset Iowa State a week ago. But OSU kept Ebner contained. Ebner returned four kickoffs for 71 yards, the longest being 24 yards. His lone punt returned netted zero yards. And Ebner’s repeated attempts to bust a kickoff return helped the Cowboys consistent­ly pin Baylor deep in its territory.

Spencer Sanders: C

Sanders did not throw well. Baylor produced three intercepti­ons, and though one wasn’t Sanders’ fault – a medium-range pass sailed through Rashod Owens’ hands, off his helmet and into the hands of Baylor linebacker Dillon Doyle – his passing was off all night. But Sanders produced some key runs, none bigger than his 11-yard gain off a rollout late in the game, when OSU faced third-and-12 from the Baylor 15yard line. That run allowed Gundy to keep the offense on the field on fourth down, and Warren scored the gamesealin­g touchdown on a four-yard run.

First-half defense: A

Baylor caught OSU with a couple of big plays in the second half. But in the first half, the Bears were futile. They ran 20 plays, made two first downs, totaled 99 yards and ended all six possession­s with a punt. The game got a little dicey in the second half, but OSU’s dominant first half put the Cowboys in control.

Tay Martin: A

With two-time Biletnikof­f Award Justin Blackmon in the house, as part of the celebratio­n of OSU’s 2011 team, Martin did a solid Blackmon impression. The senior wide receiver had seven catches for 108 yards, and Sanders failed to connect only twice when throwing Martin’s way. Sanders also hit Martin on a 35-yard flea flicker that was wiped out by an ineligible-receiverdo­wnfield penalty.

 ?? Oklahoma State's Collin Oliver (30) celebrates his sack on Baylor's Gerry Bohanon (11) with Ben Kopenski (52) in the fourth quarter of a 24-17 win Saturday in Stillwater. SARAH PHIPPS/THE OKLAHOMAN ??
Oklahoma State's Collin Oliver (30) celebrates his sack on Baylor's Gerry Bohanon (11) with Ben Kopenski (52) in the fourth quarter of a 24-17 win Saturday in Stillwater. SARAH PHIPPS/THE OKLAHOMAN

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