Was OSU's defensive performance vs. Arizona an aberration or cause for concern?
Yeah, I drank the Kool-Aid, gulping down all the offseason offerings on OSU's improved defense.
But there was a basis for my believing, too, knowing that Brod Brown and Justin Gilbert are stud corners and the returning backers bring experience and ability and the front four enjoys better depth and talent than at any time in recent history.
Now I'm confused. None of the above rang true in Tucson.
I'm not ready to write the crew off, still believing that the talent is in place for a solid defense. Maybe the Pokes were out-schemed in the desert. Maybe Bill Young was missed more than we know. Maybe they just need a mulligan.
But I'm swearing off the Kool-Aid.
Can the Cowboys be better? Sure; no way they're as a bad as week ago.
Can they be one of the best defenses in the Big 12? Pass the coffee.
I'm not ready to write this defense completely off after one poor performance.
Are there issues? Absolutely, most noticeably at strong safety and in the nickel package. The linebackers also struggled mightily against Arizona.
What we've learned is that this defense still needs to force a lot of turnovers, something it has been able to do ever since Bill Young became the defensive coordinator in Stillwater in 2009. But the turnover machine in 2011 didn't start churning until the third game, as the Cowboys forced three turnovers in its first two games and then 41 over the next 11.
By the way, Young returns Saturday following two weeks off to recover from a medical procedure.
Is this an elite defense? No. I never believed it was. But if it returns to its aggressive, turnover-forcing style — and stop the personal fouls — then things will go much better than that disastrous night in Tucson.