A year ago at Big 12 Media Days, one prominent storyline surrounding Oklahoma State was its defense, and the promise that the Cowboys could control games on that side of the ball, as well as on offense.
As the Cowboys finished 8-5 a year ago, they ranked No. 80 in total defense, No. 110 in passing defense and No. 104 in opponent first downs.
In their five losses, the Pokes surrendered at least 41 points in each setback.
Well, the defense was a hot topic again Monday, and with familiar skepticism. After yet another disappointing season spent trying to slow enemy offenses, OSU again carries optimism that its defense will be much improved, even amid questions about the unit being the team's one glaring weakness.
“We're always going to plan on stopping someone,” said defensive tackle Calvin Barnett. “Hopefully it goes as planned. Just because you make a plan doesn't mean it goes as you plan. But we're going to try our hardest.
“We don't like getting scored on. As much as we did, we never got used to it. It's not something you're supposed to get used to. We want to be the best defense and that's all we're aiming for.”
GUNS UP, SOONERS STYLE
As part of the Big 12 Media Days festivities, cheerleaders and mascots from all 10 teams provide some spirit during the two-day run, this year at the downtown Omni.
OSU linebacker Shaun Lewis evoked some Cowboys spirit from an unusual source: two Oklahoma cheerleaders.
Quickly, the image took off, leaving the cheerleaders in a sticky spot.
Lewis posed for a picture with two members of the Sooner cheer squad, convincing the smiling young ladies to flash the “guns up” hand gesture. Lewis posted the photo on Instagram, with the caption “Cowboy fans all over the place.”
Before long, the cheerleaders were feeling heat from outraged OU fans who follow them on Instagram. They appealed to Lewis to remove the photo, but Bedlam being Bedlam — and the web being the web — the images have been captured permanently.
FRESHMAN MUSTAFAA A NO SHOW
Cowboys coach Mike Gundy confirmed that true freshman defensive end Naim Mustafaa left the program during the summer.
Mustafaa, a four-star prospect from Alpharetta, Ga., enrolled early at OSU and participated in spring practice. But Gundy said Mustafaa did not return to campus for summer workouts.
Mustafaa's departure has been rumored for weeks and is now reflected on an updated roster on the school's official website.
Mustafaa was a bit of a surprising recruiting pickup for OSU, as he was a longtime Georgia commit before flipping his pledge to the Cowboys in early January in time to enroll for the spring semester.
The loss of Mustafaa affects OSU's defensive end depth, arguably the squad's biggest question mark heading into 2013. The Cowboys must replace three players that started last season in Nigel Nicholas, Ryan Robinson and Cooper Bassett.
Returners include senior Tyler Johnson, sophomores Trace Clark and Jimmy Bean and redshirt freshmen Victor Irokansi, Emmanuel Ogbah, Jeremiah Tshimanga and Eric Davis. Newcomers include junior college transfer Sam Wren, who arrived in the spring, and true freshman Vili Leveni.