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Film Look: Two Takeaways from the OSU Defense Against KU

Knowles uses the Tite Front and continues to bring the pressure against the Jayhawks.



Earlier this week I discussed my key takeaways from the Oklahoma State offense in their win against Kansas. Now it’s time to take a look at the defense. Below I’ll cover my two takeaways from the Pokes’ most recent victory.

Tite Front

For a majority of the game, the Cowboys based out of a “Tite” front. We have seen this from Jim Knowles’ defense at times this year, but it was their base look for most of the day against KU. This front has been utilized heavily throughout the Big 12 in recent years, most notably by teams like Iowa State and Texas.

The Tite front positions the two outside linemen in 4i techniques (across from the offensive tackle, slightly to the inside shoulder) or 3 techniques (outside shoulder of the guard, in between the guard and tackle), and the third defensive lineman is lined up as a nose guard. See the diagram below for further explanation on these techniques.


Here’s OSU lining up in this front on Saturday.


This article from Breakdown Sports explains just why the Tite front is becoming so popular among modern defensive coordinators.

This is fundamentally important, because zone schemes can’t get first level doubles on the way to the second level LBs. The second level is well protected, allowing them to get downhill or flow to the football. And pulling guards from the backside can be difficult because the interior DL can just attach themselves to their butt and follow them to the play. What you lose in pass rush off the edge, you gain by dominating interior gaps and protecting your second level, filling everything on the inside and spilling the ball to the edge defenders. [Breakdown Sports]

In the below clip, you’ll see an example of the Tite front working to perfection against the Jayhawk rushing attack.

The Oklahoma State defensive linemen clog up the middle “spilling” the running back outside. The spill players, or DL in this case, will fit the inside half of their gap responsibility and force the back to run laterally. Kansas running back Pooka Williams is then met by the Cowboy “force” player on the outside. The outside linebackers, cornerbacks and safeties are the “force” players who will either make the play or turn the ball carrier back into the spill players who are continuing their pursuit after the ball.

Below you’ll see the Pokes may another great stop out of the Tite front.

The Cowboys’ use of this front was a major factor in holding the KU offense to just 39 rushing yards on 24 attempts (1.6 yards per attempt).


I wrote about it last week but I felt like I had to mention it again because Knowles did an amazing job of bringing pressure this past Saturday. OSU had two sacks, five quarterback hurries and forced Jayhawk quarterbacks into throwing three interceptions. It wasn’t just that Knowles was dialing up the blitz, it was the way in which he was doing it. I spoke about the Tite front above, but the Cowboys brought the heat on the Jayhawk offense from a multitude of different looks.

In the clip below you’ll see OSU’s D-line aligned in pretty much a complete opposite look from the Tite front. The Pokes showed the front on all three plays of the KU drive, after not really lining up like this at all through the first two quarters. Pre-snap it looks as though the blitz is going to come from the top of the screen. Instead, those two defenders drop into coverage and two defenders blitz off the opposite end. They don’t get the sack here but force the QB into a quick throw.

Next, we see Oklahoma State line up in the Tite front look discussed above. Safety Jarrick Bernard comes off the edge and makes the sack.

The Cowboys would also show the blitz and then drop back into coverage making it extremely confusing for the KU quarterbacks to make accurate pre-snap reads.

The OSU defense was impressive again in this one. It’s been really fun to watch Knowles’ defense evolve and improve each week.




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