STILLWATER — “Aggressive” has been the buzzword surrounding a revamped Oklahoma State defense throughout spring practice.
Next Saturday's spring finale should give fans their first chance to see the Cowboys' new look on that side of the ball. But don't expect to see much, if any, full tackling, as OSU has continued its same approach of not taking players all the way to the ground during practice not staging a full-blown scrimmage.
More aggressive yet still no tackling? Those practice tactics might seem to contradict OSU's shift in philosophy.
Coach Mike Gundy doesn't see it that way.
“I don't believe that's been a factor in what's happened here,” he said.
Keeping players fresh and healthy, both physically and mentally, is still imperative for long-term personnel development and success, Gundy said. And he doesn't think missed tackles — a possible byproduct of OSU's current practice habits — are to blame for the Cowboys' recent defensive struggles.
Instead, Gundy consistently points to the pass defense, which ranked 110th in the nation last season in allowing 280 yards per game. He didn't think the Cowboys put enough pressure on the quarterback. And he didn't like the soft coverage from the defensive backs.
To fix those issues, the Cowboy defenders haven't necessarily had to increase their physicality or adapt to a completely new scheme. They've had to tweak their mentality.
“It's got a little bit to do with technique and approach and the style,” he said, “But most of it's just kind of the attitude.”
Gundy thinks his team has started to find that mindset during spring practice. And players and coaches have taken a liking to the new style.