STILLWATER, Okla. – No. 12 Oklahoma State faces Lamar on Saturday, at home, and most fans will assume the Cowboys have an easy win coming their way.
After beating Mississippi State 21-3 in the season opener Aug. 31 and then cruising to a 56-35 win at UTSA last week, Oklahoma State should have no trouble with Lamar.
Even though Lamar (1-1), an FCS school in the Southland Conference, doesn't match up well on paper, Oklahoma State is not taking anything for granted.
"One thing that we've really tried to emphasize with our team is to be up front and honest with them about every opponent that we play," coach Mike Gundy said. "I told them Sunday night, 'Athletically, you should be better than this team. That doesn't mean you're going to win this game. We see it every Saturday. So your preparation prior to it and your ability to go out and play on Saturday is very important.' They need to be held accountable."
It would be easy for Oklahoma State to overlook Lamar, especially with their Big 12 schedule kicking in with the following contest at West Virginia on Sept. 28.
As smoothly as things seem to have gone for the Cowboys so far, players and coaches continue to find areas that need improvement, keeping them motivated no matter who they're facing.
"I think it's important that our players understand the challenge that we have each week," Gundy said. "I'm looking forward to correcting some of the mistakes that we made. We have to do a better job tackling, and we have to be more disciplined on procedure penalties on the defensive side, jumping offsides, we have to clean that up. We got a lot of work ahead of us, but we're certainly glad that we're 2-0."
Defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer pointed out that there were several issues to work on, including the fact that the second stringers surrendered 28 points in the fourth quarter
"When we get in that film room and we look at those 10-15 plays last week where we really weren't very good, it doesn't take our kids long to say, 'Wow, that's how fine a line it is on our side of the ball,'" Spencer said. "Trust me, we had enough breakdowns for our kids to stay humble. I don't care, and those older guys on the sideline, they don't care who's in that uniform, you're expected to perform. A lot of those (backup) guys, a couple more injuries, they might have to play all the time."
Starting quarterback J.W. Walsh, who completed 24 of 27 passes for 326 yards and four touchdowns on Saturday, insists the Cowboys are not concerned with who lines up across from them.
"You got to prepare each week like the opponent's the same," said Walsh, who was named the Big 12 offensive player of the week. "That's what we did last week and I think that's what we're going to do this week. We're just going to keep preparing and treat them all the same."
Starting left guard Brandon Webb can't wait for the moment when the players first arrive on the field.
"It's going to be fun coming back and having our family and friends here, playing in front of them," said Webb, a senior. "The best part of playing in Boone Pickens is probably when we first come out of that tunnel. You can't really see anything, you might trip coming out, the smoke gets a little heavy, but coming out seeing the fans full, everybody cheering — that's the best part about it."
And everyone is guarding against any signs of overconfidence.
"With a mature football team like we have, with a lot of older guys, I don't worry about it as much," Spencer said. "If we were playing a bunch of freshmen or sophomores with that first unit, that might be a concern, but I think our guys will respond."