Don't Forget About The Defense

Caleb Lavey

It's been a long time since names like Phillip Dokes, Mark Moore and Kevin Williams were the heroes dressed in orange. It could be because Oklahoma State fans have locked in on the glitter and glamour of offensive football, something the Baylor Bears fans are experiencing to probably the greatest degree seen in the Big 12. OSU has won primarily on defense before but it has been a long time.

The last time the Cowboys were doing that was about the time current defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer was running out to play defensive tackle at Georgia Tech to the sound of Bachman Turner Overdrive's "Taking Care of Business" on the sound system at Grant Field.

"Great defenses play with great emotion and great intensity," said Spencer in his first full season as the OSU defensive coordinator after serving as co-coordinator for a couple of seasons.

"We're trying to be that, and we're nowhere close to that. All we think about is doing enough this game to win, and we did. They can be satisfied tonight, but all that matters is next week. People can be patting them on the back, but it's about the next game. We're just as good as what we're going to do next Saturday."

This game they were plenty fine as they held TCU to 10 points, 325 total yards, just 62 yards in a tone-setting first half, and forced four turnovers. In the first half, the Frogs averaged just 2.4 yards a snap and their biggest play was a 12-yard run by B.J. Catalon.

"On the defense we're kind of older and we know we have one job to do and it is not to worry about the offense," said senior middle linebacker and leading tackler on the season Caleb Lavey. "It is to get out there and get turnovers and to get off the field, three and out, and get the offense more opportunities."

"We keep emphasizing it, and today we needed those to win the game," added Spencer of the turnovers. "That's the mentality I'm trying to stress to them is, 'What do we have to do to win this game?' and just living in the now. We've got to get those turnovers. We need to match what the other defense is doing. I was very proud of that. That was the big difference. That's why we hung in there."

Lavey had a spectacular series in the second half with back-to-back big plays. He caught TCU quarterback Trevone Boykin for a short three-yard gain on a scramble that could have developed into a bigger play as Lavey was really the only player in position to stop him short. Then on the next play he picked off a Boykin pass.

"I've got great defensive linemen in front of me pressuring him (Boykin) and, you know, he's running because we have great coverage back there," said Lavey, sharing the credit as he always does. "They are locking down the receivers, so I had the opportunity and he is a great runner but I was able to get a shoestring tackle on him. Then we were able to get off the field and give the ball back to the offense."

It all had to be very frustrating for the TCU offense. They had very few chances because the Cowboys gave them very few opportunities to have any success. Part of the fun for a defense is to sense that frustration.

"You can see it by some of their play calls as well," said Lavey, who had five tackles and a fumble recovery to go with his interception.

"That was the game plan going in, to make sure we kept them down early and that they didn't get any big plays," added back-up linebacker Joe Mitchell, who had three tackles in the game and now has 12 on the season.

Mitchell is a senior that doesn't start but plays a lot. In fact, he has played in every game he has been in since arriving at Oklahoma State.

"Coach trusts me and I make sure in practice I have every thing down pat," said Mitchell, who is an unsung hero on the defense as the next man in at linebacker. "Then I do what I can to maximize my time in the game and make as many plays as I can for my team."

Add all the names, Shaun Lewis, Shamiel Gary, Daytawion Lowe, Ryan Simmons, James Castleman, Tyler Johnson, Lyndell Johnson, Ofa Hautau, Calvin Barnett, Zack Craig, Anthony Rogers, Sam Wren, Justin Gilbert, Kevin Peterson, Tyler Patmon, Emmanuel Ogbah, Trace Clark and more.

The Cowboys defense is playing well and playing the heavy in winning games. It's tough not to focus on what's ailing the offense, but don't forget to take pride in the defense because they deserve it.

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