Excitement Not Limited To 'O'

John Helsley

OSU’s offense got loads of love for its excitement factor recently. And for good reason, with firepower and experience galore returning.

And it’s legit.

I’ve said it before, the Cowboys arguably have the best running back AND receiver in the nation in Chuba Hubbard and Tylan Wallace. Let that sink in a little here in little ’ol Stilly.

The Pokes may have the best players at two of the premier positions in college football. And at quarterback, the other premium spot, I’m in the corner of Spencer Sanders taking a huge step in his sophomore season. There’s plenty more to like about the offense, too.

All that said, OSU’s defense could be a gamechanger, a difference-maker, this fall.

This is an exciting group. Maybe not with the flash and dash of Chuba and Tylan, but in quality and quantity rarely, if ever, seen on an OSU roster.

The Pokes return 21 of 22 defenders off the Houston Bowl depth chart, led by tackling machines Malcolm Rodriguez and Amen Ogbongbemiga. Calvin Bundage is back, too, following a year away due to injury. Missouri grad transfer Christian Holmes has starting experience, and offers immediate help at the one position void of a 2019 starter: cornerback. Collin Clay, a sophomore transfer from Arkansas, played in 11 of 12 games for the Hogs as a true freshman, and hopes to be ruled immediately eligible, which would be a huge boost to the defensive front.

Beyond the linebackers, there’s star power in Kolby Harvell-Peel, Tre Sterling and Trace Ford, who could be OSU’s latest star at defensive end.

There was a learning curve for both the players and Jim Knowles in his first season with the Cowboys. But a year ago, in Year 2, the defense made major strides, ranking No. 37 nationally in defensive efficiency by season’s end – up from No. 80 the year before.

“I felt like coach Knowles conformed our defense to fit the style of play in this league,” Cowboys coach Mike Gundy said in the spring. “I thought we played better defensively.”

The group won’t get a lot of attention nationally or even regionally, because folks sleep on the Cowboys except when they can’t be ignored, like this season with Chuba, Tylan, Spender, et al.

But this is an exciting crew of defenders, with proven playmakers plus the kind of depth that won’t reveal a major weakness when someone goes down.

Could OSU field the Big 12’s most exciting offense and defense?

Maybe. Just maybe.

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Comments (2)
No. 1-1

Excellent report. I have to go way, way back (like DC Rob Ryan back) to remember an OSU defense that I was so eager to see play.