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October 8, 2012
The bye weeks are finally done with, and Oklahoma State is set to begin the home stretch of their 2012 schedule with eight games in their last eight weeks.
The beginning of that stretch is a trip to Kansas this weekend to face off against the Jayhawks, and after they hung with Kansas State for the first half of their game this past weekend, the game plan for Oklahoma State is simple.
Stop the run and create turnovers.
KU ranks 51st in the country with 177.8 rushing yards per game, and that's due in large part to coach Charlie Weis' love for the Power-O run play in his pro-style scheme.
The play is a hand off to the running back that's built to go off of the tackle with a pulling guard from the opposite side sealing off the outside of the hole. Once that run is established, the Jayhawks run play-action passes off of it to try and catch the defense slipping up.
"We feel really good about our front seven against the run," defensive coordinator Bill Young said. "We're playing a defense that's designed to stop the run, and you've got to stop the run before you do anything else. We feel good about those guys."
Oklahoma State has already seen a similar approach when they faced off against Texas.
In that game the Cowboys handled the run pretty well, and they'll likely be using a lot of the same techniques and schemes in the trenches to keep the Jayhawk rushing attack at bay.
"There are a lot of similarities between the two," Young said. "I think there's a little bit more of a pro-style offense at Kansas, as opposed to the ground-and-pound, ball-control offense that Texas runs, but there are a ton of similarities."
The other key is scoring big in the turnover category, an area where OSU has tremendously underperformed in so far this season.
In last week's press conference, coach Mike Gundy said that it's small adjustments have to be made to make the ball bounce in their favor. That was the team's focus during the off-week, and their success in both the Kansas game, and the rest of the season, hinges on just that.
"We're trying to slow things down in the meeting room," Young said. "We show them what happened, what should've happened, and why it didn't. Then once we have that foundation, we take it to practice. If they misplay it again, we stop and talk them through it again. Things happen fast so it's easy to make mistakes, but we're cutting them out."
If the Cowboys can come out and force KU's hand, they'll likely board the plane back to Stillwater with a 3-2 record. The key will be controlling the run and forcing turnovers, and not just doing both of them, but doing them as soon as they step on the field.
"Kansas is a good team," linebacker Caleb Lavey said. "We can't come out flat-footed, we have to take advantage and get going fast. When you're away, a team can jump on you early and it's hard to recover. We can't let that happen this week."
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