4. WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE OKLAHOMA STATE DEFENSE
– Even by Big 12 standards, the defense was a problem. It was ninth in the ten-team league allowing 453 yards and 33 points per game, giving up 31 points or more in nine of the last ten games. Seven of the top ten tacklers are back, and there’s enough overall talent back to expect just a wee bit of an improvement, but …
– The entire defensive front is gone, starting with pass rushing star Jordan Brailford and with a tackle situation that needs to improve even with new guys in the mix. This is where the recruiting class has to help with JUCO get Sione Asia and Colorado transfer Israel Antwine needing to be instant factors. Overall, the cupboard isn’t totally bare, but it’s going to be a work in progress.
– The linebacking corps needs some work, too, after losing leading tackler Justin Phillips and third-leading hitter Kenneth Edison-McGruder. 215-pound Calvin Bundage is back at one spot after coming up with 62 stops. There’s a little more size with 235-pound Devin Harper back after making 44 tackles and 225-pound Amen Ogbongbemiga ready to do more after getting his feet wet as a special teamer.
– If you’re going to be good in one area on defense in this conference, it’s the secondary. The pass defense might have allowed 267 yards per game, but it was all on dinking and dunking. However, OSU only came up with five picks.
AJ Green is a good-sized veteran cover-corner, and Rodarius Williams is a good tacklers on the other side. The corners are the stars, but the safety combination of Malcolm Rodriguez and Jarrick Bernard aren’t far behind. Unlike other parts of the defense, there’s depth across the board, too.