Connect with us


A 2017 Report Card for Glenn Spencer at the Halfway Point



Following his team’s 59-16 win over Baylor, an unusually outgoing Glenn Spencer remarked about his favorite postgame meal.

“Got a bucket waiting on me,” Spencer said. Kyle Boone confirmed that the menu item for celebrating a win was still fried chicken. “It’s getting cold,” Spencer answered.

The task of a defensive coordinator is often thankless. If the head coach is the CEO, ultimately responsible for all the goings on within the organization, the lead assistants become the absorbers of whatever emotional response their particular group elicits. More times that not, it’s the negative play that gets a reaction.

So if you’re Glenn Spencer, you take advantage of those brief moments when you can just relax and enjoy a win.

“We scored more points than them so we need to be happy,” said Spencer. “I’ve got about four hours to be happy tonight before the grind starts again.”

These guys are paid, and paid well. Pissed off fan bases and pointed postgame questions are part of the job. So, in fairness to all involved, let’s answer the question of how good Glenn Spencer’s defense is — and by extension grade him as a coordinator — by the parameters the man himself has set.

The fifth-year defensive coordinator spoke with PFB during Mike Gundy’s media golf tournament and availability this summer and Kyle Porter got to pick Spencer’s brain about what makes a good defense in the Big 12 and what specific stats and numbers accommodate winning.

“How successful are you at scoring defense, turnovers and red-zone defense? Those are the three most relevant things that determine winning football games,” Spencer said.

That’s a good place to start. Let’s look at where OSU has ranked in those categories during Glenn Spencer’s tenure.

PPR = Points per red zone trip
PPD is from BCF Toys

Year PPD National Rank TO Forced National Rank PPR Big 12 Rank
2017 1.82 42 11 T40 4.39 4
2016 2.09 54 25 T24 4.58 3
2015 2.24 73 28 T9 5.20 6
2014 2.25 79 19 T116 4.90 7
2013 1.29 5 33 5 3.91 1
Scoring Defense

“If we’re defending 18 possessions and one of my friends in the southeast is defending 10 possessions, there’s gonna be a lot more opportunities for people to score,” Spencer said.

To Spencer’s point, there is a lot more to grading a defense than just comparing box scores. Play counts matter and not all offenses faced are equal. More on that later.

The Cowboys are allowing just 1.82 points per drive, just about the 1.8 mark Spencer claimed as his goal this summer. This current number is the best mark since that historically good 2013 defense Spencer started out with.

It ranks them at fourth in the Big 12 but those top four are separated by a small margin and are a step above the rest of the league.

Team PPD Allowed National Ranking
TCU 1.73 37
Iowa State 1.80 39
Texas 1.81 41
Oklahoma State 1.82 42
Kansas State 1.95 51
Oklahoma 2.17 65
West Virginia 2.29 73
Texas Tech 2.69 104
Baylor 3.02 116
Kansas 3.66 125

The Cowboys have yet to face Oklahoma and West Virginia, both among the top 10 most efficient offenses in the country, so things may level out some. But they do have an offense to support them that ranks first in a handful offensive categories including points per drive, offensive efficiency and is second in average scoring offense.

2017 Grade: A-


The self-given “We’re Takin’ It Back” motto/moniker was all the craze around practices and on t-shirts a couple of years ago. While we haven’t seen #WTIB much from Spencer’s Twitter timeline this year, he hasn’t backed off on preaching the importance of dispossessing the bad guys. It’s been a staple emphasis of his coaching curriculum since Day 1 — to varying degrees of success.

The Cowboys are trending toward a finish in the bottom half of the league in turnover margin for the first time in three years. The offense and special teams own a fair share of that blame, having given away a league-worst six fumbles. And Mason Rudolph has already matched his interception count from a year ago.

But the Cowboy defense is on pace for a below-average season in takeaways. It did gain a season-high three TOs against Baylor last Saturday after losing the TO battle 5-2 in Weeks 1 and 2 of Big 12 play. A positive outing against Texas will be crucial.

2017 Grade: C+

Red-Zone Defense

“PPR” is our stat for points per opponent red-zone attempt and I think it’s the best way to measure true red-zone efficiency both on offense and defense. We currently only have that data for Big 12 teams, but Spencer’s defenses have been good, not great overall.

Baylor’s inability to score a touchdown after its opening drive provided a slight boost in this number. Of course, that same team registered a 4.0 PPR against Oklahoma. The Cowboys still have room to grow but based on a one-week trend, I’ll grade favorably.

2017 Grade: B-

Through six games this season, the Cowboys are ranked 31st in defensive efficiency by BCF Toys. Only TCU and Texas have a higher rating among Big 12 teams.

“First of all, you do enough to win the game,” Spencer said. “You have to limit them to one more point than what you score, right?. That’s the bottom line. But we all want to set goals and we want to look at stats.”

These stats are important but the most important number is the one that that shows up in the win column (which it didn’t against TCU). Is this defense good enough to win a Big 12 title? That still remains to be seen, but the numbers so far say that it is.

Most Read

Copyright © 2011- 2023 White Maple Media