Oklahoma State Cowboys haven’t played this well on defense in back-to-back games in who knows how long.
Maybe I’m overreacting at the fountain of turnovers the defense has produced of late since defensive turnovers left town with Glenn Spencer nearly two years ago.
I made a point to try to exclude all three Cowboys who earned Big 12 Player of the Week honors in Spencer Sanders, Chuba Hubbard and Kolby Harvell-Peel because picking them is the easy way out. Let’s take a look at three more stand-out performances.
Three Stars — Dillon Stoner
Filling the shoes of Tylan Wallace isn’t easy. Nobody on this roster will be able to replicate Wallace’s production and skills, but Dillon Stoner sure tried.
Stoner, a redshirt junior, finished with three catches for 93 yards, two of which went for touchdowns. The pair of scores were Stoner’s first of the season and the 93 yards is a season high.
Last week @CowboyFB lost their #1 receiver in Tylan Wallace (@OfficialTylan2), this week? WR Dillon Stoner (@dillon_stoner) showed up as the next #1. Getting behind the defense and walking into the endzone after a great ball from Spencer Sanders (@SpenceSanders)#WNSFilm pic.twitter.com/S8YcYY7neW— Brandon Olsen (@WNS_Brandon) November 5, 2019
They’re not Wallace blow-the-roof-off numbers, but they’re productive, which is exactly what OSU needs. Maybe Stoner is the player that steps up and fills production. Maybe it’s Landon Wolf. Maybe it’s Jordan McCray. But Saturday wasn’t a bad place to start for Stoner.
Two Stars — Rodarius Williams
Williams helped lock down the secondary as TCU quarterback Max Duggan passed the ball a surprising 39 times. Wallace finished with six tackles and made Pro Football Focus’ all-Big 12 defensive team for the week, joining Harvell-Peel.
In a lot of cases, it can be hard for cornerbacks to get shine. They get roasted by the masses when they give up long touchdowns, but if they do their job correctly by locking down their assignment, nobody notices. That’s part of the reason it is hard to offer any insight through stats for Williams. He had his assignment on lock and it showed, with his individual performance earning a top two grade among all Big 12 cornerbacks.
One Star — Sanders’ ball security
OSU is a different team when Sanders takes care of the ball. That’s been a struggle of his this season as he has thrown an interception in every game since Week 2 against McNeese State. But Saturday felt different. Yes, he had an interception, but he found a way to be efficient with his arm and his feet while maintaining reasonable ball security.
I’ll take one turnover any week because it’s hard to win by committing three turnovers and nearly impossible with five turnovers. Find a way to make things happen and I can live with one mistake — and as we’ve seen the last two weeks, that makes a big difference.
The Cowboys went 1-3 during a stretch when Sanders committed multiple turnovers against Texas, Kansas State, Texas Tech and Baylor. Playing a cleaner game the last two weeks have produced wins in games OSU led nearly the entire way. If Sanders can finish the season by limiting himself to one turnover, it’s likely a nine-win season.
Great ball, better catch. @CowboyFB QB Spencer Sanders (@SpenceSanders) and WR Dillon Stoner (@dillon_stoner) connect for their second touchdown of the game with Big XII CB1 Jeff Gladney all over him. If Tylan comes back next year, this offense might be unstoppable. #WNSFilm pic.twitter.com/CsFduLHoZB— Brandon Olsen (@WNS_Brandon) November 5, 2019