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Kansas vs. Oklahoma State: Previewing the Cowboy Defense

Previewing the Oklahoma State Cowboys defense ahead of Saturday's game against the Jayhawk in Lawrence

Richard Rowe-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire

No doubt about it, I underestimated Oklahoma State. That's not to say that I ever thought Kansas was going to control the game or win, I just sort of assumed that this was classic OSU. Strong offense, weak defense and that offense was in transition. Yes the offense is in transition from a leadership standpoint, but it's still plugging along. On the defensive side of the ball there seems to be a growing sense of optimism as this group is really stepping up to the plate in some respects when compared to last season.

SLB 11 Shaun Lewis (5-11; 225; Jr; Missouri City, TX)

MLB 45 Caleb Lavey (6-3; 240; Jr; Celina, TX)

WLB 37 Alex Elkins (6-3; 230; Sr; Archdale, NC)

The linebacking corps is the most experienced group on the field for Oklahoma State and each player brings a little something different to the field. When and how you'll see them used really depends on how Bill Young positions his defense because the personnel groupings can dictate whether two or three of these guys are on the field at the same time and Oklahoma State will vary their defense. That might not be as much the case this week but we'll wait and see. This group has really been allowed to work freely because of improvement at the defensive line spot and the run support provide by these three is really going to present some challenges for the Kansas running attack.

DE 80 Cooper Bassett (6-5; 270; Sr; Tuttle, OK)

DT 91 James Castleman (6-2; 296; So; Amarillo, TX)

DT 99 Calvin Barnett (6-2; 299; Jr; Tulsa, OK)

DE 96 Ryan Robinson (6-4; 250; Sr; Buford, GA)

This is an inexperienced group but it's also the group that has Cowboy fans most optimistic about the defensive potential. Castleman and Barnett have really developed into two solid anchors on the interior. This is creating room to work for the rest of the front seven and really solidifying the Cowboy defense. If you had to point to one reason that this team has gone from the bottom of college football to the middle of the pack in overall defense, these two would be the leading answer. And that once again brings up the age old argument, does the defensive line make everyone better?

CB 19 Brodrick Brown (5-8; 185; Sr; Houston, TX)

SS 7 Shamiel Gary (6-0; 210; Jr; Tulsa, OK)

FS 8 Daytawion Lowe (5-11; 205; Jr; Midwest City, OK)

CB 4 Justin Gilbert (6-0; 194; Jr; Huntsville, TX)

Oklahoma State's secondary is a fairly aggressive group playing with some confidence this year. Brown has been around for three years now while Gilbert and Lowe are both returning starters. Throw in the support they are getting from the front seven and it seems to be making their job a little bit easier. Of course they aren't just sitting back and waiting. Oklahoma State will use the safeties in run support, the corners will press and they will try to force mistakes. That hasn't been all that successful so far this year, but compared to 2011 the Cowboy defensive unit sure seems a lot closer to getting over the hump and making this unit a strength instead of a weakness.