A year ago, OSU fielded its best defense of the Mike Gundy era. So losing so many veterans is lamentable.
Still, only cornerback Justin Gilbert was drafted off that defense. And there’s a belief inside the program that the Cowboys have recruited better players, lending hope that some weaknesses might be covered up quickly.
“Daytawion Lowe doesn’t like to hear this,” defensive assistant Van Malone said of the former Cowboy, “but where we’ve lost in experience, we’ve really taken a step forward in athletic ability. And in size and speed and explosiveness.”
Malone said that in talks with the strength and conditioning staff, OSU’s youngest players are getting rave reviews. And the defense will be relying on youngsters, for depth and possibly even starting roles.
“Maybe the guy doesn’t know his left from his right, right now, but his athletic ability and is overall speed is well advanced for his age,” Malone said. “So we’re excited about those things.
“We hope that we’ve done a good job of recruiting athletes and the athleticism can hold on until the experience arrives.”
The lack of experience can’t be dismissed.
“It’s irreplaceable,” Spencer said. “You can’t sugarcoat it. You can’t replace it. You can’t coach it.”
Spencer and his staff can coach other things, like schemes and technique. And they can motivate.
And they will.
“By, hopefully, Thursday’s practice of Week 1, I’ll be stupid enough to believe that we can go out and play our tail off and beat Florida State,” Spencer said. “Right now, that’s a pipe dream. Right now, we’re so far away from that.
“But I know we’re going to work.”