Preview 2009 - Defense
2009 CFN Oklahoma State
2009 OSU Offense
2009 OSU Defense |
2009 OSU Depth
What you need to know:
With defensive coordinator
taking off to take over the Toledo job, it'll be up to Bill Young to
take all the athleticism and all the potential and improve on the
situation. The first step is to generate some sort of a pass rush,
especially from the ends, and while there are some good options to work
with, it remains to be seen if there's any one play for quarterbacks to
worry about. The linebackers will be the strength of the defense by far
with starters Andre Sexton, Orie Lemon, and Patrick Lavine forming a
sure-tackling trio that should be able to do more if the line is a bit
better. The secondary can hit but coverage is a problem. The return of
safety Lucien Antoine from a knee injury will be a plus, but the corners
have to be more consistent.
Andre Sexton, 100
Jeremiah Price, 3
Interceptions: Perrish Cox, Patrick Levine, 2
Star of the defense:
Senior LB Andre Sexton
Player who has to step up and become a star: Sophomore DE
Unsung star on the rise: Senior FS Lucien Antoine
Best pro prospect: Sexton
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Sexton, 2) LB Patrick
Lavine, 3) LB Orie Lemon
Strength of the defense: Linebackers, Athleticism
Weakness of the defense: Proven Pass Rush, Pass Defense
Back at his starting spot on the end,
and needing to do more to get to the quarterback, is Ugo Chinasa,
a 6-5, 253-pound junior who started every game and was the top tackler
on the line making 24 stops, However, he only came up with two sacks and
8.5 tackles for loss. A star recruit a few years ago, he hasn't lived up
to his potential quite yet, but one of the big goals of new defensive
coordinator Bill Young is to get him into the backfield more. He's going
to be turned loose.
Taking over on the other side is
Jamie Blatnick after making 13 tackles and a sack in his first
season. The 6-3, 252-pound sophomore is a smart player who has made
himself into a bigger, stronger option on the line, and he has the type
of burst and quickness to become a major pass rusher in a full-time
6-3, 285-pound senior Derek Burton played
most of last year at end but is far better suited for the inside. He got
a start at both tackle spots and ended up making 23 tackles with 5.5
tackles for loss. However, he didn't progress as a pass rusher like he
was supposed to. He should be better in a rotation at tackle where he
should use his experience and athleticism to grow into an all-star.
Junior Shane Jarka
has had problems with a leg injury, but he'll get the first look
at a tackle spot after making ten stops last year. At 6-3 and
285 pounds, he's a decent-sized inside presence who can play end
if needed. He'd make for a great 3-4 end and needs to use his
quickness to generate pressure from the interior.
Projected Top Reserves:
Swanson Miller was a star JUCO transfer who was supposed to make a
huge impact right away. At 6-4 and 300 pounds, he brings a
bigger, true-tackle body to the line, and he wasn't bad in his
first season making 17 tackles. However, he didn't make the
splash he was originally expected to after making 79 tackles
with 5.5 sacks in his final year for Butler County CC. The
senior will combined with Jarka at one tackle spot.
Senior Jeremiah Price
might solve the teams pass rushing woes. The former
JUCO transfer made three sacks in his first year, and while that
might not seem like much, it led the team. He also made 22
tackles in his spot-starting role. The coaching staff thinks he
could special after a dominant offseason, and while he'll start
out behind Blatnick, he could be an all-star as a pass rushing
Richetti Jones was
considered one of the nation's top end prospects a few years
ago, but he suffered a hip injury in high school and hasn't been
quite right yet. He made just five tackles last year, but now he
appears to be ready to become a factor on the outside in a
rotation with Chinasa. The 6-3, 255-pound sophomore is getting
his groove back and appears ready to be the player the Cowboys
were so excited to pick up.
Donaldson hadn't done much in the first part of his
career and only made nine tackles last season, but he had a
great spring and appears to be ready to be a nice cog in the
system. He'll work in a rotation with Burton at one tackle spot,
but the 6-2, 290-pounder could shake things up by taking over
the job and allowing Burton to move around.
Watch Out For ... more of
a pass rush. The call has gone out to Young to get his defense
to get into the backfield on a more regular basis. It should
happen. There's good experience and nice potential on the
outside, and out of all the options, one star pass rusher should
emerge. Will it be Price? Jones? Chinasa? It'll be worth keeping
an eye on.
Strength: Size. This is a good-sized front at all
four spots with ends pushing around 260 pounds and big backups
at tackle to step in when needed for the starters. Good offenses
were able to do what they wanted to against this line, but few
pushed around the OSU front four. They won't be able to this
Weakness: Pass rush. There's a reason this was an
area of work throughout the offseason after finishing with just
15 sacks and 67 tackles for loss. While there's hope for an
immediate improvement, there isn't a sure-thing pass rusher to
count on from day one.
Outlook: The line doesn't have to be special, but
it has to be stronger when it comes to getting into the
backfield from all four spots. The team's leading sacker can't
have just three sacks again, but it wouldn't be a bad thing if
there was a push from all the positions. The tackles are beefed
up ends who have the potential to be disruptive, but if there
isn't more from the ends, the high-octane Big 12 offenses will
still go ballistic.
Senior Andre Sexton
has been a tackling machine over the course of his career,
working at strong safety early on, making 69 tackles last year,
before moving to linebacker where he made a team-leading 100
stops on the strongside. While not huge at 6-0 and 217 pounds,
the second-team All-Big 12 performer has limitless range and can
be used as a pass rusher as well as an extra defensive back in
pass coverage. He's smart, hits like a ton of bricks, and will
be the tone-setter for the front seven.
senior Patrick Lavine has been a career
producer making 221 tackles in his first three years with 19
tackles for loss and 13 broken up passes. The main man on the
weakside made 70 tackles last season with two interceptions and
5.5 tackles for loss, and now he really knows what he's doing. A
high-school safety, he was great from the start, but last year
he looked more than ever like a star linebacker and not a bulked
up defensive back. Able to play any of the three linebacking
spots, he'll move around it needed.
Lemon finished second on the team with 90 tackles after
finally finding a home. He was considered for several different
positions over the course of his career, but the former high
school quarterback appears to be set in the middle. At 6-1 and
250 pounds, he's a big defender with good range. Now that he has
a year under his belt, he's expected to be even better.
Projected Top Reserves: Former JUCO All-American
Donald Booker has to see more time. The 5-11, 235-pound
senior isn't as big in the middle as Lemon, but he's arguably
the team's biggest hitter and has fantastic speed. He was great
on special teams and was a strong reserve linebacker finishing
with 32 tackles. Now he could do far more no matter where he's
put. He could work on the outside if needed.
Justin Gent made 27 tackles last year as a key
reserve working on the weakside. While he's more natural for the
middle, he can work anywhere in the linebacking corps with great
tackling skills and nice upside. At 6-2 and 235 pounds, he's a
little bit bigger than Lavine.
Thomas is more like a defensive back at 6-0 and 205
pounds, but he's strong enough to work on the strongside. He
made ten tackles and has star potential as a special teamer.
He's a safety playing linebacker and will move around where
Watch Out For ... the starting trio to be even
better. Last year was about finding the right combination and
cleaning up everything the line couldn't handle. Now with an
expected improvement up front, the linebackers should be able to
do more as pass rushers and against the pass.
Strength: Veterans and versatility. Three of the
team's top four tacklers are in the linebacking corps with
Sexton (first), Lemon (second), and Lavine (tied for fourth) and
all three started every game. The backups can all move around
between spots; they're almost interchangeable.
Weakness: Stops. There are ton of tackles and
plenty of excitement surrounding the returning starters, but too
many tackles were made down the field and there weren't enough
plays made in the backfield. The linebackers have to do more on
Outlook: The linebackers were far, far better
against the run than in the past, but it's not like they had to
go against too many power running teams. Oklahoma showed how
shaky the OSU run defense was, and Oregon obliterated it. The
potential is there to be great, but the linebackers have to hold
up against the better running teams.
Senior Perrish Cox is
a special kickoff returner and isn't awful on defense. At 6-0
and 195 pounds he has decent size and fantastic speed, and now
he has a two years of experience going from a spot starter in
2007 to working every game on the field corner last year making
32 tackles with two interceptions and eight broken up passes.
He's not the soundest of lock-down corners, but he can hold his
own against most Big 12 receivers.
Taking over at the
boundary corner will be Terrance Anderson after
making 27 tackles as a nickel and dime defender. Ready to play a
bigger role after seeing plenty of time over the last few years,
the 5-11, 185-pound senior should be fine with most teams trying
to stay away from Cox. However, he has to prove he can make
things happen when the ball is in the air.
for Rickey Price at strong safety is Victor Johnson
after making 19 tackles. With a world of upside after a
good true freshman season, the 6-1, 190-pounder is a sure-thing
tackler who has the speed and quickness to be used in a variety
of roles on special teams. A potential all-star, he'll grow into
the job over the next three seasons and will be one to keep an
eye out for.
Senior Lucien Antoine got
knocked out with a knee injury early last year. "The Punisher"
will be ready to go and should be a fan-favorite at free safety
with his next-level hitting skills and great range. He earned
All-America honors at Fort Scott CC as a top pass defender and
dangerous factor behind the line, and now the 6-1, 215-pounder
should do a little of everything for the secondary.
Projected Top Reserves: Senior Maurice
Gray came over from Butler County Junior College and
was a key special teamer finishing with 13 tackles with two
broken up passes. The 5-9, 180-pounder will be a nickel and dime
back while also serving as a backup behind Cox. A state-champion
level sprinter as a Georgia prepster, speed isn't an issue.
Markelle Martin worked mostly on special
teams as a true freshman finishing with four tackles, but he
also broke up four passes during his limited action. At 6-1 and
190 pounds he can be a big corner or a fast safety, and he'll
start out as a strong safety but could move to corner if there
isn't more production from the projected starters.
Sophomore Johnny Thomas is a rising star with
enough speed to sprint for the OSU track team and the tackling
ability to make 12 stops as a true freshman. The 6-0,
195-pounder has unlimited range at free safety and will be a
good special teamer again.
Watch Out For ... The Punisher. Antoine was supposed
to be the new star of the show before suffering his knee injury.
He has superstar potential and will make several highlight shows
with his popping ability.
Strength: Speed. At the very least, the defensive
backs can move with a track-team-like group. Staying with the
faster receiving corps won't be a problem.
Weakness: Interceptions. The Cowboys have to start
making more big plays, but that's been a problem for years. The
team came up with 12 interceptions last season and could do more
now that there should be more of a pass rush. The corners have
to prove they can take advantage of the extra help.
Outlook: No one in the Big 12 played any pass
defense so there's no need to get into a twist after allowing
270 yards per game. However, there have to be more picks and
more big plays to go along with the yards. This group will be
athletic and it'll make plenty of tackles, but it's not a
Junior Dan Bailey had
a rocky first season but was terrific last year nailing 15-of-18 field
goals with two of his missed coming from beyond 50 yards. He was
fantastic over the second half of the season, nailing ten of his last 11
field goals and will be counted on for any kick from 45 yards and in.
Good luck replacing Matt Fodge, who averaged 42.9 yards per kick.
Redshirt freshman Quinn Sharp struggled throughout
spring ball, and while has has a decent leg, he'll have to work on his
accuracy and placements.
Perrish Cox is one of
the nation's best kickoff returners averaging 29.8 yards per try with
two touchdowns. He has four career scores on kickoff returns and will be
avoided at all costs. He's way too good to kick to. Meanwhile,
Dez Bryant was a superstar as a punt returner as well as a
receiver averaging 17.9 yards per try with two scores.
Watch Out For ... Bailey. If he can hit a 50-yarder
early on this year, the focus of the offense might change a little bit.
At the moment, the offense will have to be more aggressive to avoid any
long kick attempts.
Strength: The return game. It's the best in
America. Cox and Bryant are All-Americans who can change a game at any
time with returns for scores.
Weakness: Kickoff coverage. The punting game could
be the biggest problem, but the kickoff coverage team has been lousy for
the last few years and struggled mightily last year giving up 25 yards
Outlook: Sharp has to show some consistency early
on, but even if he does, the punting will be a concern. Bailey is fine
and the return game is elite. There needs to be some tweaking down with
the coverage teams, but the positives in the special teams are huge.