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Shaken and stirred: Cowboys pass rush irritates Texas Tech’s young quarterbacks

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LUBBOCK, Texas — Donovan Smith attempted to run.

Tyler Lacy had other plans.

He bursted into the backfield as Smith tried to scamper to get back to at least the line of scrimmage.

Lacy threw his arms around Smith and punched out the poorly protected football. A pile of Cowboys leapt onto the loose ball and after some shuffling through the mostly white OSU jersey’s Malcolm Rodriguez emerged from the heap of bodies gripping the ball.

As both teams walked back to their respective huddles the emotions were obviously different.

Lacy was doing his signature home run celebration.

And Smith, making his second career start, walked back dejected and shaken despite the score still being just 13-0 in favor of Oklahoma State.

“If I was on offense (against the OSU defense) it eventually just wears you out,” coach Mike Gundy said. “The reason is we play a lot of guys up front and we get a lot of pressure. We’ve been fortunate enough to put the quarterbacks under duress.”

The Cowboys pass rush, which entered Saturday first in the country in sacks, and on Saturday the pressure was no different. The Cowboys defensive line, and the occasional linebacker or safety, lived in the Texas Tech backfield.

They recorded four sacks, were credited with only four quarterback pressures but piled up 12 tackles for loss, which ties for the most in a single game this season.

“When we blitz somebody has to get home, it’s one-on-one,” linebacker Devin Harper said. “We’ve got a lot of good blitzers and a lot of good defensive lineman who can pass rush and (the pass rush) has been a big benefit for us.”

The constant pressure and having to roll out of the pocket just to have to throw it away kept breaking down Smith, the Cowboys could feel it and fans could see it. Throws from Smith were landing way off target sometimes 20 yards over a receivers head.

The Red Raiders tried to make a switch at quarterback to true freshman Behren Morton, who, much like Smith, found little hope against the OSU defense. Combined the two Red Raider passers were 10-of-31 for 83 yards. Smith tapped out with a quarterback rating of 57 and Morton recorded a measly 33.3.

“Everytime you see a young quarterback or a new guy come in, you have to put pressure on him and make them feel uncomfortable,” Lacy said. “That’s what we did on the field today.”

The Cowboys defense has been the power source of the team’s success and with Bedlam and a Big 12 Championship on the horizon they are still fending off a letdown game. The team chemistry is the driving force.

“We have a motivated defense,” Harper said. “Everybody’s out there ready to grind. We just practice our butts off and you can see it displayed on the field.”