STILLWATER — Once again this season, Oklahoma State finds itself wanting to improve its defense.
"With the exception of a couple of years, we haven't played really good defense here in 20 years,” said coach Mike Gundy.
But in the past — as with defensive coordinator Tim Beckman, when he arrived last season, or Vance Bedford before him, or several others along the way — it has been coaches trying to bring a new edge, a new attitude to the Cowboy defense.
That's where this year is different. Now, it's the players generating the new attitude.
"We've gotten some kids that brought that absence of physical play to the team's attention, and it has built from them,” said Beckman, entering his second season at OSU. "Now, it's about making takeaways and hitting with your pads and being a tough, physical defense.”
Junior-college transfer Lucien Antoine — who earned the nickname "The Punisher” for his big hits that on occasion produced cracked shoulder pads — was the first to highlight the lacking physical presence.
"It all started with Lucien, coming in and making some of the big hits he made,” said senior Andre Sexton. "That motivated everybody, and you see how fun it is and how excited everyone gets with a big hit and you just want to try that much harder to have a big hit, too.”
Big hitting wasn't the only missing piece in OSU's defensive puzzle last season. The Cowboys were 112th nationally in passing yards allowed and 101st in total defense.
"We weren't very physical, we weren't very fast, we weren't very good,” said Beckman, who came to the Cowboys from Ohio State. "I just wasn't used to that. Last year was one of the toughest years of my life.”
Last spring, Beckman set a goal of improving to the top 50 in total defense.
Senior safety Ricky Price took it to another level, saying that he expects to be in the top 25.
OSU Sports Blog