“Then, rotating in and out with Ryan Robinson last year.”
With so many seniors starting, it's not surprising that their names dominate OSU's statistical categories: tackles, sack, interceptions and pass breakups.
Defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer said the experience factor extends to his play calls, allowing for more flexibility due to a greater understanding of his concepts.
“Any coach will tell you, and I'll for sure tell you, it's not the calls, it's guys who can execute the game plan,” Spencer said. “It allows us to put in some different things in a game plan that maybe younger kids couldn't handle. Our kids can handle it.
“They know how to respond after a sudden change, whether we have a turnover or bad field position. You have a maturity on the defense and kids who have played a lot of snaps. It's invaluable. You can't coach it. It only happens with experience. And we've got the luxury of that happening.”
It's not a luxury that can counted on annually.
Seniors depart, and the makeup of the next crew can vary.
“And then you've got to find out how to win in those situations, also,” Spencer said.
Next season will be like that for the Cowboys, with younger players needed to start building their own career start totals.
So the current seniors carry a responsibility of not only producing on the field, but aiding in producing replacements.
“Our coaches do a good job of telling us, and we know, that our younger guys are looking at us,” Lewis said. “I've been talking to a lot of the younger linebackers and telling them to get prepared for next year, showing them how to be successful in this league.
“I think they're taking the teaching well.”