Glenn Spencer's ascension to defensive coordinator status coupled with a promise of more aggressive game planning for one.
But also a belief that OSU's defensive talent is better than revealed in 2012.
Count Spencer among the believers.
“They're mine and I love them to death,” Spencer said recently. “And I have the confidence we're going to get it done. I love those kids, especially the ones who have bought in and are selling out in the summertime. I have confidence we can make it work.”
ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. includes Gilbert and Barnett among the best NFL prospects at their positions entering the season.
Lowe has been a consistent force for the Cowboys and Lewis has been steady and reliable.
And beyond the watch lists are emerging young players such as tackle James Castleman, linebacker Ryan Simmons, safety Lyndell Johnson, end Jimmy Bean and corners Kevin Peterson and Ashton Lampkin, among others, who have OSU insiders raising the bar on expectations.
Now for another disclaimer: we've heard such optimism before, most notably in the run-up to last season, when Cowboy defenders talked openly, even boastfully, about shouldering their share of the load. And we know how that turned out.
So there's a show-me stance to take in regard to 2013.
“Until the lights come on Aug. 31,” Spencer said, “there's still that thing of, ‘Hey, we have to go out and prove what kind of defense we are.'
“It's all about what you do with the next opportunity. And all the talk and the hype and predictions really don't mean anything.”
Well, it does mean something.
It means there's reason for hope. And optimism.
And in July and August, that counts for something for a fan base so desperately wanting more.