“It lets the guys on the back end (in the secondary) kind of do their thing and not have to worry about making up for us up front.”
Additionally, OSU's starting linebackers — Shaun Lewis, Caleb Lavey and Alex Elkins — are a season older and wiser. The speed and athleticism of reserves Ryan Simmons and Lyndell Johnson will also be counted on against a quarterback like Klein who can run and throw.
Then mix in pressure from the defensive ends and help from the secondary, which has all contributed to an OSU defense that has tallied 12 quarterback hurries, eight tackles for loss (three sacks) and five take-aways over the past two games.
Young also believes it's beneficial that the Cowboys have now faced Klein, who amassed 231 passing yards, 144 rushing yards and four total touchdowns last season. The key, Young said, is not to over-pursue Klein when bringing pressure off the edge and to stay in front of him on the inside, because Klein is a patient runner who will wait for holes to open. And Young knows the Wildcat offensive line likes to double-team a defensive tackle, and will also try to get an offensive tackle down the field to block a linebacker.
By the end of the contest, Bassett expects to be bruised up. He could have bloody elbows like Klein, too.
But Bassett believes his defensive line and linebackers are now more capable of handling the physical challenge Klein and K-State present. And he knows the Cowboy front seven will have to produce results Saturday night against one of the premier players in college football in order to have a chance to knock off the nation's No. 2 team.
“I don't think we'll be able to rattle (Klein),” Bassett said. “But hopefully, we can contain him and present a lot of issues for him.”