That presents an immediate challenge for the OSU front seven, particularly the defensive linemen. Calvin Barnett and James Castlemen present a formidable starting duo at tackle, and the backups will get an early chance to prove Gundy's positive comments about the depth at the position are warranted. An inexperienced defensive end group must be ready. Safeties Daytawion Lowe and Shamiel Gary will also need to assist in stopping the run.
When Mississippi State throws, the Cowboy cornerbacks will be able to show their new approach to play more press coverage on the receivers. Those receivers, however, might not provide the best measure of OSU's technique improvement in that area, as the Bulldogs are attempting to replace their top three pass-catchers from a season ago.
Since the summer, the Cowboys have watched film on the Bulldogs. In recent weeks, they've tried in practice to simulate what they'll see Saturday.
But Spencer admits it has been difficult to fully imitate the style of offense the Bulldogs will bring to Reliant Stadium.
“I'm not just saying this, but we've got to wait and see,” Spencer said of how his defense will match up. “Really, we will find out, because that's the only test that's true … I'll be looking forward to seeing us perform, just like everybody else.”