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Defensive Line Shows Tenacity, Depth in Week 2



Oklahoma State’s defensive linemen were outstanding on Friday evening in Mobile and nearly helped the Pokes to their first shutout since 2012 against Savannah State.

The starters on the defensive line had three sacks, 6.5 tackles for losses, a forced fumble and 17 tackles, and the Cowboy D-line pivoted 180 degrees from a lackluster showing against Tulsa in the season-opener. They were tenacious and deep in OSU’s 44-7 sleeper against South Alabama on Friday night, and there was reason to believe the second impression was the right one to look at.

The Cowboys put nine guys on the line while the 1s were playing. That’s a ton, even as defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer strayed more and more from the 3-man front. Depth was the key to what many people considered to be OSU’s strongest defensive position group heading into 2017. Production flipped the perception from last week.

Two fewer tackles, three fewer sacks, 1.5 fewer tackles for loss against a better team than South Alabama but still a team that many people called “just Tulsa.”

Then came Friday. Early in the second half, DeQuinton Osborne rocked in his stance before the snap, gauging the snap from his defensive tackle spot. When the ball flinched, he pounced. He shot through his blocker, and though he didn’t make the tackle on the outside run, he planted the center. A petunia in the turf.

Another later in the quarter. Jordan Brailford, listed as the third defensive end off the left edge, lined up opposite Jarrell Owens on a third and 10. Brailford used his speed and went almost untouched to get around the right tackle. Owens used his hands to get back there after what seemed like milliseconds. They combined for the sack.

Point being: They were much better.

Osborne looked great, but he wasn’t even the Cowboys’ best along the defensive line, statistically. Two Cowboys beat their men* more times than they didn’t, which is truly remarkable.

Players Wins Losses %
Jarrell Owens 8 7 53.3
Enoch Smith Jr. 6 4 60.0
Jordan Brailford 6 7 46.2
Vili Leveni 8 10 44.4
DeQuinton Osborne 9 13 40.9
Others 19 44 30.2

*Defined as whether a rusher got off or past their guy before either the QB passed it or the runner got by.

In fact, the Oklahoma State defensive linemen beat their blockers at a monster 40 percent clip while the starters were in on Friday night against South Alabama.

But what was most lovely about the defensive line’s output Friday night was the variety and the quality in the variety OSU was getting up front. Nine first-team defensive linemen makes for a fresh defensive front. The fact that Cole Walterscheid, Brailford, Owens, Vili Leveni and Trey Carter all got within five reps of one another is outstanding. And it showed.

Brailford and Owens were able to focus almost exclusively on pass rushing. Walterscheid and Leveni could zone-in on run support. And with Enoch Smith Jr. coming in as that fourth tackle, Osborne and Darrion Daniels could catch their breath a lot more often.

South Alabama finished the game with 41 rushing yards on 27 carries and only 134 yards through the oxygen. The Jaguars didn’t even have 100 total yards until the fourth quarter.

That’s outstanding and an extremely valuable confidence boost for a group that probably needed one before getting hit in the teeth at Pittsburgh next week.

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