Zac Robinson, Dez Bryant, Kendall Hunter and Russell Okung all emit a significant glow.
And yet, the telling focus of the Cowboys' fortunes might be directed on defense, where there's a search for shining light.
OSU's defense ranked No. 93 nationally in total defense and No. 78 in scoring defense a year ago and still won nine games and played in the Holiday Bowl.
Goals and expectations for 2009 have risen, both inside and outside the program. But to make them real, to contend in the Big 12 — beyond? — the defense must be better.
Enter Bill Young, brought from Miami to OSU in a bit of a coup, as OSU's next defensive coordinator.
Young's preseason plan is to guide the Cowboys D on a climb. And quick.Here are Young's five defensive goals to accomplish this season:
1) Focus on finding the best 11 on defense. And then the next 11.
Breakdown: The Cowboys return six starters and 18 letterman overall on defense. But on the brink of possible special season, this is no time for simply playing favorites. A new coordinator means players must prove themselves all over again. Young, too, is shifting players into different roles to fit his approach. Depth, always a concern, is trickier with the changing definition of positions.
Young says: "We did a little bit of (identifying the key figures) in the spring and now we've added some new people; plus we've gotten bigger, stronger and faster. Our offseason conditioning program has been tremendous. Our guys are so much more physical looking than they were when we left spring."
Notable: Young has been at this for more than three decades; successfully, too, serving as the defensive coordinator at seven schools. So he knows how to identify talent. And there is talent. Still, it's a lot to completely transform a defense in eight months, especially in a league where offense reigns.
2) Keep implementing the package.
Breakdown: There's always an adjustment to a new coordinator and his philosophy and scheme. This adjustment, away from the complex approach of former coordinator Tim Beckman, should be relatively smooth. Young likes to simplify things and rely on his players' athletic abilities and instincts. That's popular in the locker room, too.
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