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Line Segment: Run Defense Shines Against Pittsburgh



We already looked at the offensive side of things, but I wanted to look at OSU’s defensive line performance at Pitt, too. Matt Canada’s offense gave the OSU defense problems last season, and although he left for LSU, Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi decided to keep that offensive philosophy with incoming offensive coordinator Shawn Watson.

Anytime you hold a team that prides itself on a power run game to 3.0 yards/carry you have to be pretty happy. The Oklahoma State defensive tackles shined once again, and are slowly proving to be one of the best positional units on the team.

“Defensively we stopped the run,” said Mike Gundy. “Pitt wants to run the ball and control the clock – we stopped the run. In the first half, we were poor at time tackling. We missed three or four guys on tackles which cost us a couple of touchdowns. The rallied and tackled better in the second half.”

I was worried that the constant shifting would really test OSU’s discipline, but for the most the Oklahoma State defense was sound in that area.

Although they had their moments, if there’s a point of criticism I think you would like to see a steadier pass rush. There are still times where the DEs are unable to shed blocks if they get latched on. OSU had 2 sacks and 6 QB hurries officially. Ideally you would like to see the sack number closer to 3-4. I would settle for more disruption, which really isn’t a stat in itself but has a large impact on the game itself.

Here is a good example of disruption that doesn’t show up in a box score. Enoch Smith is able to get a nice rush up field, shed his blocker with some really nice upper body strength, and ultimately cause a holding penalty after the guard tackles him from behind.

Here is one of the two sacks, nice twist from Brailford and DQ. Brailford is getting pretty good at that Dwight Freeney-style spin move. Check out the bend/flexibility from DQ Osborne to be able to make that corner and make the sack. That is really impressive for a 300-lb defensive tackle.

This is just great defense. Brailford can feel that this is a screen pass so knows he has to get to the QB immediately, he has to assume there is a RB behind him setting up. Osborne has great awareness on the screen pass as well, and immediately locks down the RB to blow the play up.

Full disclosure on this play, this is just terrible football from Pitt. It’s almost like they thought no one would rush on the right side of the line? Nonetheless, tremendous pressure applied from both Trey Carter and Calvin Bundage. Causes a hurried throw and a pick-6. Also does Bundage kill the QB?

This play ended up getting called back for holding, but it’s a good example of when getting out of your rushing lane can open up huge holes for the run game. Brailford gets too far inside and the OL is able to seal him even further, and it opens up a gaping hole for a big 33 yard gain. Gap integrity is so important.

Overall I think the DL did its job. It wasn’t a dominating performance by any means, but they prevented Pitt from having a consistent run game. Holding any a team to 103 rushing yards and 14 points is a big deal, even more so a Power 5 team like Pitt. The 4-man rotation of Dequinton Osborne, Trey Carter, Darrion Daniels and Enoch Smith is a really exciting group and hopefully can anchor this DL once the competition continues to get tougher.

On to TCU!

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