STILLWATER, Okla. (AP) Better known for its explosive offense, Oklahoma State entered the AP Top 25 in its final spot this week after winning its first two games behind a shutdown defense.
The Cowboys (2-0) have surrendered just 21 points, tied for 15th in the nation. They also rank highly with 282 yards allowed per game (31st nationally) and 85 rushing yards per game (20th).
''I was pleased, the kids played really hard, just attacking the perimeter,'' said OSU defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer of the unit's performance in a 32-8 win over Central Arkansas.
''I thought we played violent, which is what we ask of them. We had a lot of great stops.''
It was an improvement over their performance in a season-opening 24-13 win at Central Michigan. For starters, they did a better job of limiting big plays - after allowing Central Michigan five gains of 20-plus yards, the Cowboys held Central Arkansas to just one.
Another important improvement was with third-down conversions - Central Michigan converted 8 of 18, but OSU held Central Arkansas to 2 of 15.
''Central Michigan, they kept converting on third downs, so we knew we had to stop that,'' said junior defense end Emmanuel Ogbah, who leads the squad with 2 1/2 sacks and six quarterback hurries.
''I feel like we didn't miss a lot tackles like we did against Central Michigan. I felt like we stepped up, we had a good game, even though we didn't get the turnovers that we should have gotten.''
That's about the only complaint for Oklahoma State's defense so far - they aren't generating turnovers. Sophomore safety Tre Flowers had an interception during the opening drive of the Central Michigan game, but that's been it for OSU so far.
One defensive concern heading into the season was inexperience at defensive tackle, but sophomore Vincent Taylor has played well. After recording 13 tackles in a reserve role last season, Taylor has blossomed this year, making 11 tackles, including 3 1/2 for a loss - both ranking second on the team - and adding one sack.
Coach Mike Gundy has been happy with Taylor's development, but thinks the tests will get tougher from here, starting with next Saturday's home game against UTSA (0-2).
''He's played well up to this point each week,'' Gundy said. ''(UTSA), in our opinion, is the best team that we've played, and each game will get harder as we progress. We'll know a lot about him in a month, but he's done very well up to this point in the season.''
Spencer had a similar message: The defense has played well, but no one should feel satisfied.
''They can't be,'' Spencer said. ''If they're ever satisfied, they're going backwards. That (Central Arkansas) game is so far gone. If you revel in that, it's poison. They have to be thinking, `Look at all those mistakes we're making,' and, `How are we going to play better next week?'
''People are trying to pat them on the back now, but you're one game away from all these congratulations being condemnations.''
AP college football website: collegefootball.ap.org