Connect with us


Defensive Line Depth Chart Primer: OSU Runs Deep and Will Mix Up Looks



After looking at the offense for the last few weeks, it’s time to turn our attention to the defensive side of the ball. The defense is really going to be the fascinating part of the 2017 team in my opinion. Although there are a few question marks on offense, I think most of us have consistent expectations of what we’ll see from that group heading into the season.

The defense will probably be the difference between a 8-9 win season and 10-12 win season. There are a lot of new players and it’s almost a certainty we will see new scheme looks from Glenn Spencer. We started to see these looks late in the season in 2016, and the addition of Brian VanGorder as a defensive analyst only support the narrative that OSU will be showing different fronts. VanGorder is a 3-4 guy who has a ton of experience at both the NFL and college levels. You have to think he was brought in specifically for his knowledge on the 3-4, because he has no experience in the Big 12 and was fired from Notre Dame in 2015.

I went back and looked at scheme and alignments in the WVU, Texas Tech, TCU and OU games last year. One thing I want to mention is I have no clue what OSU was doing vs. Texas Tech. I think their offense is so outrageous that Spencer created his own defensive scheme specifically for that game. I saw a few looks where there are literally four defenders in the box vs. six potential blockers.

General rule of thumb as a defense is you want one more guy in the box than potential blockers, I guess that rule of thumb never played in the Big 12.  Guess what? They passed on this down ….. don’t you just love Texas Tech? OSU really mixed up with its fronts in these games depending on the offensive style they were facing, some were successful and some were not.

It’s going to be hard to list out a traditional depth chart because I think we see 4-3, 3-4 and even some 3-3-5 stack alignments at some point this season. The depth chart will change based on the scheme OSU is playing. I also think the separation between starter/reserve is smaller than it has been in quite some time. In the past Spencer has run a pretty base style defense, nothing fancy.  e will sprinkle in some blitz packages here and there, but in general OSU relies on base packages.

I am a little concerned as to how a 3-4 will work with the Cowboys’ personnel. It’s generally reserved for teams that have a space clogger (Vince Wilfork, Dontari Poe etc.) in the middle who can ultimately shed blocks and cover both A gaps. OSU doesn’t really have anyone like that on the roster, most of their interior lineman are more one gap DTs.  The closest thing they have to that is Ben Hughes, and although I think he will play a factor this season, he hasn’t shown the consistent ability to play this role. The Pokes played a lot of three-man fronts in a traditional 3-4 look vs. Tech, where the nose guard was directly in front of the center. I thought as a whole, they really struggled to shed those blocks and make plays from that spot.

It’s something to keep an eye on moving forward about how the scheme shifts throughout the year and also based off each opponent and their offensive style of play. You could see a complete change of defensive strategy from week to week based off the opponent.

Defensive Line

DE – Jarrell Owens – RS-Jr. | Tralund Webber – Sr.
DT – Darrion Daniels – Jr. | Dequinton Osborne – RS-Sr.
DT – Trey Carter – RS-Jr. | Taaj Bakari – RS-So.
DE – Jordan Brailford – RS-Jr. | Cole Walterscheid – RS-Jr.

In terms of DE, the top four are basically interchangeable. Spencer will rotate these guys a lot because there is minimal drop off between the group. Brailford is coming off a shoulder surgery, so it will be interesting to see if he is available at the beginning of the season. Enoch Smith Jr. is listed as DE on the roster, but I think he ends up inside, although might move around some. You have to feel confident with all four of your top guys here.  I really like Webber as a pass rusher, I could see him getting 7+ sacks this year.

Trey Carter is an interesting story, and might be the biggest key to the DL. He moved inside this off season, I figured this would happen after the Alamo Bowl.

He has the flexibility to play 3-4 DE as well, and is still listed as  DE on the official roster.  He is a strong one gap pass rusher from the middle, and I think he is poised for a good year.

Darrion Daniels is ready to make the jump to All-Big 12 caliber player.  He has the talent and will have plenty of opportunities to prove it. If OSU can get Daniels to dominate, the rest of the DL will fall into place. Osborne is a bowling ball, wins off getting low and is a smooth athlete for his size, he is starter caliber and will be huge contributor. Osborne could easily be listed as a starter for Game 1, at this point I think it’s a coin flip between him and Carter. I listed Bakari here because I think he is most likely to be the 4th DT in the rotation, but you could easily see Ben Hughes steal some playing time as well. As it stands that should be the five-guy rotation depending on where Smith Jr. lines up.

Brock Martin is someone everyone needs to keep their eye on.  He is a guy that will probably end up being too good and productive to redshirt. I feel like an ACL injury in high school prevented his recruitment from blowing up, luckily the OSU staff was able to scoop him up. He is a perfect fit for what they look for at OSU, big time production as an under radar prospect that is a two-sport star.  I think he will be a huge contributor in Stillwater in his career, and could really see meaningful snaps as a true freshmen.

Overall this should be a strength. DT depth is a slight concern and there aren’t any crazy good pass rushers in the group (Webber is prob best of the bunch), but this is a solid DL for Oklahoma State standards. Daniels is a guy who has NFL ability and he needs to prove that this year.

Remember what I was referencing earlier: The fronts they show will be all over the map. So the three or four lineman in the game could be vastly different based off the defensive call. You could easily see Daniels, Carter and Levini in the game as a three-man front and all three of them are considered DTs. It just depends on the defensive scheme and the situation.

Most Read

Copyright © 2011- 2023 White Maple Media