Defensive plan fails as Brooks goes off against Cowboys

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Jarrick Bernard sacks Oklahoma quarterback Jalen Hurts during the Oklahoma vs. Oklahoma State football game on Saturday, Nov. 30, 2019 at Boone Pickens Stadium in Stillwater, OK.

Mike Gundy previously called Oklahoma’s offense a “one-man show.”

He brought up rushing numbers from previous Sooner quarterbacks to prove his point. He preached that the way to stop OU was by stopping quarterback Jalen Hurts. 

But that wasn’t what happened this game.

While the Oklahoma State defense did an OK job at stopping Hurts, another Sooner caused even more problems.

Running back Kennedy Brooks was the thorn in OSU’s side the entire game. He dominated OSU for four quarters as the Cowboys lost to OU 34-16 on Saturday at Boone Pickens Stadium.

It wasn’t the one-man show like Gundy thought it was going to be. 

Defensive coordinator Jim Knowles said the gameplay for the defense was to focus on Hurts.

“(Hurts) is obviously a great player and we focused a lot of attention on him,” Knowles said. “Anytime you play defense against a great offense like that when you focus in one area, you leave yourself open in other areas.”

It didn’t take long for Brooks to stun OSU’s (8-4, 5-4 Big 12) defense as he ran for nine yards on the first play of the game. Then he blew past OSU for 18 yards two plays later. 

Linebacker Amen Ogbongbemiga had a disappointing look on his face after the game as he talked about Brooks’ performance. 

“We just got out of our gaps a lot and we struggled to beat gaps out,” Ogbongbemiga said. “We knew it was going to be tough. A lot of our focus was on Hurts obviously and they did a great job just letting other players another player make plays.”

The Cowboys held Hurts to just 61 rushing yards, the No. 7 Sooner quarterback’s third-least yards this season. Like Knowles said, it was the focus all along.

While OSU’s main plan worked, Brooks rushed for 160 yards, the most he’s had in a game this season.

Brooks had six runs of 10 yards or more, with the majority of them coming on first down. Big runs killed the Cowboys’ defense.

“Sometimes we gave up big plays and you can’t do that against teams like that,” linebacker Malcolm Rodriguez said. “Every once in a while we gotta make a stop. We did that sometimes and sometimes we didn’t.”

Knowles said that they made some adjustments at halftime, but it was too little, too late.

The Cowboys were smart enough to put a lot of their focus on Hurts. But they weren’t smart enough to realize that the Sooners (11-1, 8-1) still had other players that OSU needed to worry about.

“We were behind in the running game when it came to the running back,” Knowles said. “We focused a lot on the quarterback and the guy that everything went through. (OU) did a good job at adjusting and going to the running back more.”

sports.ed@ocolly.com