Much has been said about the offenses of the Boise State Broncos and Oklahoma State Cowboys heading into Saturday’s matchup. How does Oklahoma State’s defense stack up?
Two high-octane offenses are going to take the field on Saturday in Stillwater when the Boise State Broncos take on the Oklahoma State Cowboys. This begs the question: which of the defenses will step up and shut down the prolific offenses the most?
Between up-tempo action and wild formations, there’s enough footage, yardage, and points to make a defensive coordinator’s head ache for days.
We’ve seen what Boise State’s defense is capable of so far in 2018. Fresh off a blowout against UConn and a fairly definitive win over Troy, plenty of players have seen action in the season’s first two games.
The Broncos have a rotation of all-conference players on the defensive line and a deep, talented secondary. Throw in a linebacker unit finding its bearings and the defense is off to a solid start.
How does the Oklahoma State defense compare?
Two games into 2018 and they’ve allowed only 30 total points. The Cowboys have held their two opponents to a combined 474 yards and 28 total first downs. (For comparison, Boise State had 38 first downs in the UConn game alone).
Their two opponents, Missouri State and South Alabama, converted only 8-33 ( 24 percent) on third-down conversions. The unit has forced three turnovers and collected nine sacks.
The Cowboys haven’t exactly been tested but a season after ranking 116th-nationally in pass defense and allowing nearly 30 points per game, they are settling into a new 4-2-5 scheme. This has been implemented under new defensive coordinator Jim Knowles, who arrived from Duke, where he coached a top-25 defense.
Who to watch
Oklahoma State’s defense lost a fair amount of talent from their 2017 squad and the Boise State offense will be going up against a unit with very few seniors.
The Cowboys still returned a handful of starters, notably in the secondary, and might give the Broncos a few fits.
Much like Boise State, the defensive line of Oklahoma State has depth. They have at least six players who can bring pressure, led by defensive end Jordan Brailford. Brailford, a redshirt junior, has two sacks so far in 2018. This comes a season after he collected five sacks. Cole Walterscheid, who has over 20 career starts, Darrion Daniels, and Jarrell Owens are a couple of other defensive lineman to keep an eye on.
The top tacklers so far in 2018 all represent the linebacker position. Junior Calvin Bundage has 14 tackles, 1 sack and 2.5 tackles-for-loss to lead the Cowboys. Both Justin Phillips and Devin Harper have eight tackles, with Phillips racking up 3.5 tackles-for-loss this season.
Rypien and company will have their hands full with two experienced cornerbacks on Oklahoma State. Radarius Williams, a redshirt sophomore, had 10 pass breakups as a freshman in 2017 and junior A.J. Green had four interceptions last season.
Both of the Oklahoma State safeties are new to the starting lineup.
Defense has not been a word synonymous with Oklahoma State over the past ten years or so. They are looking to change that, but if they could hold off one more week on making that change, it will make all of us in Bronco Nation much happier.