STILLWATER – For most of the players on Oklahoma State’s team, the feeling of getting blown out in a college football game was unfamiliar until just last week.
The Cowboys (1-1) rode the highs of the best season in the program’s history a year ago, winning the school’s first Big 12 championship and a BCS bowl. When a road trip to Arizona in Week 2 resulted in a 21-point blowout, it was a brand new experience for many.
Oklahoma State hadn’t lost by more than 10 points since the final game of the 2009 regular season, at Oklahoma. That makes today’s game against Louisiana-Lafayette (2-0) a test of resiliency and focus after a sloppy effort that included four turnovers, a handful of dropped passes and a school record 167 penalty yards.
“It’s sad to say after the second game of the season that you’ve got to get refocused, but it’s something we’re going to get done,” defensive end Cooper Bassett said. “Without a doubt, our coaches and our leaders are going to make sure that we do everything we can to get back on the right track.”
Coach Mike Gundy blamed a number of factors, including a hangover from an 84-0 blowout of Savannah State in the opener and a series of extremely hot days, for dragging down the Cowboys’ preparations for Arizona. In the day and a half after the loss, he said he had as many meeting with individual players as he can remember in his career.
He challenged receiver Tracy Moore, who caught four touchdown passes, to be a better leader. He asked defensive tackle Calvin Barnett to clean up his play after drawing three 15-yard personal foul penalties.
And generally, he asked for better play.
“Coaches don’t make bold predictions, but we’re not going to play that way. I don’t see how we can,” Gundy said. “We’re not good enough to overcome those situations. I’m not sure if we were good enough last year to overcome 15 (penalties) for 167 (yards) and four turnovers with the guys we had on offense last year that are starters in the NFL. So, we’re certainly not good enough this year.
“We want to be aggressive. We want to run to the ball on defense and we want to hit, because if you’re not, then you’re not going to be any good anyway. But, we have to be smart.”
The part of the loss that was hardest for the team to take was all of the self-destructive mistakes.
“It hurts more when you get embarrassed like that,” Bassett said. “To give up 59 points and just play as bad as we did on the road like that, it is embarrassing. You feel bad because you let down yourselves, your teammates, your coaches and the fans. The one good thing we can pull out of that is it made everyone mad and embarrassed everybody, and so everybody’s going to be focused this week and hopefully the rest of the season to not like something like that happen again.”
Louisiana-Lafayette will be facing Oklahoma State for the third straight season, after taking a lead into halftime of a 54-28 loss at home two years ago and dropping a 61-34 decision in Stillwater in the 2011 season opener. That was Mark Hudspeth’s first game as coach of the Ragin’ Cajuns.
“Our kids love playing in a big-time atmosphere,” Hudspeth said. “We don’t want to go somewhere and play in front of 12 to 15,000 people. We want to play in front of a big-time crowd like we had at Cajun Field or a big-time crowd like we’re going to have this Saturday at Oklahoma State in Stillwater. Nevertheless we’ve been in that environment, so hopefully it won’t be anything different than it was last year, other than us hopefully playing a little bit better.”
The Ragin’ Cajuns got two touchdowns off of interception returns against Brandon Weeden in last year’s visit to Boone Pickens Stadium, but still gave up 666 yards of total offense and couldn’t keep up.
This year, the Cowboys will be quarterbacked by Wes Lunt, who set a Big 12 freshman record with 436 yards passing against Arizona but also threw his first three interceptions – one when a receiver slipped and another off of a receiver’s hands.
Hudspeth expects to have his starting quarterback, Blaine Gautier, back after backup Terrance Broadway came on in relief to lead Louisiana-Lafayette to a 37-24 win at Troy last week. The Ragin’ Cajuns are seeking their first 3-0 start since 1988.
“It’s almost all the same starters. The difference in them is that we played them the first ballgame and they had a brand new staff, a brand new offense, brand new defense and then went on to win nine games,” OSU defensive coordinator Bill Young said. “They’re a much, much better team at the end of the year than they were at the beginning just because of their familiarity with the scheme.”
La.-Lafayette at Oklahoma St.
When: 11 a.m. today
TV: Fox Sports Okla.