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Chalk Talk: How OSU Used Pressure to Improve Defensive Efficiency



The Oklahoma State offense received heavy praise in the Cowboys’ 59-16 win over the Baylor Bears last Saturday, but the defense deserves credit as well, forcing three turnovers and holding the Bears to less than 1.2 points per possession. Although the players have contributed to the Pokes’ defensive improvement, defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer has also played a big role. Spencer has used exotic looks and different pressures to stay unpredictable and help slow opposing offenses. Although the defense certainly isn’t the best unit in the country, it’s been more than adequate in the past two games, and Spencer has done nothing but  help the unit’s effectiveness.

One of OSU’s biggest weaknesses headed into last Saturday was their third-down defense. Even after Saturday, the Cowboys are 112th in the nation in third-down defense allowing a 45-percent conversion rate. But there were plenty of times in this past game when the Bears weren’t able to convert thanks to defensive pressure.

The Cowboys used a number of different blitzes against Baylor, like this six-man cross-dog blitz out of a three-down alignment:

A standard cover-1 blitz in the red zone:

And an exotic zone blitz that used three (!) lineman in coverage:

Here’s a back view of the same play:

Even when the Cowboys didn’t send extra pressure, their coverage was much improved. Take this cover 3 play, for example, where the lineman got pressure with a double twist and Gyasi Akem instinctively jumped in front of the route for an interception:

The Bears converted 39 percent of their third downs, which is still relatively efficient. But it would be foolish for anyone to expect the Cowboys to be in the upper echelon of third-down defense. With that being said, OSU’s more aggressive approach has been more effective, because although they’ll give up the occasional third down, they’ll be able to stop even more third downs by using pressure. Spencer’s adjustment deserves credit, and the Cowboys have figured out they’re much better on defense when they’re on the offensive.

How do you think the defense performed against Baylor? Leave your opinions below in the comments!



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