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Cowboys' defensive line keeps showing improvement

BY GINA MIZELL Published: October 16, 2011

STILLWATER — In the crucial fourth-quarter stretch for the Oklahoma State defense, where the Cowboys halted any Texas momentum gained following an OSU safety, some unlikely names showed up in some of the game's biggest moments.

On the Longhorns' first offensive play after the safety, freshman tackle James Castleman and reserve end Ryan Robinson nearly got to UT quarterback David Ash, helping cause an incomplete pass to Malcolm Brown. Two plays later, tight-end-turned-defensive-end Wilson Youman drilled Ash for his first-career sack to force a Longhorn punt.

And when Daytawion Lowe stripped the ball out of Ash's grasp on the Longhorns' next possession, another tight-end-turned-defensive-end, Cooper Bassett, was there to corral it and essentially clinch the 38-26 victory for OSU.

The Pokes' defensive line, a unit that was often questioned about its talent, depth and experience heading into the season, is far from elite. But it has rarely hurt the Cowboys this season.

Against the Longhorns, it was OSU's most effective defensive unit in a game that needed a strong performance on that side of the ball because of an inconsistent showing on offense.

Of the Cowboys' 15 tackles for loss, 10 came from the defensive line. That group also recorded three of OSU's five sacks and eight of 11 quarterback hurries.

“This group will never quit,” defensive tackle Nigel Nicholas said.

Nicholas on the inside and Jamie Blatnick on the outside have established themselves as the anchors of that line.

Both had four tackles for loss Saturday, the most since Nathan Peterson had five against Baylor in 2007, and were particularly strong in the first half. Blatnick also set a career high with nine total tackles and added two sacks a week after tallying an interception and a fumble recovery against Kansas.

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