Blog Entry

In defense of the Oklahoma State defense

Posted on: October 31, 2011 4:54 pm
Edited on: November 1, 2011 10:08 am

Posted by Tom Fornelli

When you look at the top three teams in the BCS rankings right now, LSU, Alabama and Oklahoma State, most people would tell you that the difference between those three teams is that LSU and Alabama have impenetrable defenses, which would make either one a favorite against Oklahoma State in a title game, should it come to that.

Well, that's not entirely fair to the Oklahoma State defense, because it's a unit that is a lot stronger than it looks. On the surface people will see a unit that is giving up 26.5 points a game, which is good for 62nd best in the country. Compare that to Alabama's 6.1 points against per game -- best in the nation -- and LSU's third-best 11.5 points against per game, and the comparison just seems silly.

Here's what you might not know, though. Yes, you've probably heard that the Oklahoma State defense leads the nation in takeaways (29) and turnover margin (+19). That's played a huge role in Oklahoma State's success this season, but the Cowboys defense does more than just take the ball away from you. Believe it or not, it keeps you off the scoreboard as well.

On the whole, Oklahoma State has given up 212 points this season. Which is quite a bit, but did you know that 110 of those points have come after Oklahoma State has already built a lead of 25 points or more?

That means 52% of the points the Cowboys have allowed this season have come after the outcome was essentially decided.

In the season opener, 31 of Louisiana-Lafayette's 34 points came after Oklahoma State had already built a 31-3 lead. Tulsa scored 27 points after Oklahoma State had built a 45-6 lead, and the Cowboys had a 35-7 lead against Kansas before the Jayhawks tacked on another 21 meaningless points in a 70-28 loss. This past weekend Oklahoma State was up 42-0 on Baylor before the Bears finished the day with 24 points.

So the majority of the points scored against Oklahoma State's defense has been when the Cowboys have called off the dogs and starting substituting for players on defense. In fact, there's only been two games this season in which a team scored more points against Oklahoma State in the first half than it did in the second half. Those two games were the epic comeback against Texas A&M and the win over Missouri.

In the first half of games opposing quarterbacks are completing 56.4% of their passes with 3 touchdowns and 7 interceptions for a QB rating of 103.96. In the second half those numbers grow to a 63.1% completion rate with 6 touchdowns, 10 interceptions and a rating of 126.38.

So, yes, the Oklahoma State defense does give up a lot of points. It's just too bad that most of those points have come after the game was already over. So you might want to reconsider the notion that this weekend's game between LSU and Alabama is a default national championship, because Oklahoma State isn't going to just step out of the way.

Since: Feb 14, 2007
Posted on: November 1, 2011 9:20 am

In defense of the Oklahoma State defense

Props to you Tom Fornelli.  You are the first writer/analyst that has actually done some research on OSU.  You got it right!!  Every other national sports person has just looked at the final score or yardage and come to a conclusion rather than taking a little time to reseach the Cowboys. 

Since: Aug 20, 2006
Posted on: October 31, 2011 11:26 pm

In defense of the Oklahoma State defense

I have noticed that Mike Gundy plays his backups sooner in blowouts than most other coaches do.

Since: Oct 31, 2011
Posted on: October 31, 2011 6:18 pm

In defense of the Oklahoma State defense

SHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!  Quit telling everyone that our D is legit. We want the spotlight off of us. Being the underdog is an advantage and we will do whatever it takes to win. Even if it is taking unfound criticism.

Go Pokes! 2012 BCS champs!  or 2011 however you look at it 

Since: Jan 17, 2007
Posted on: October 31, 2011 6:06 pm

In defense of the Oklahoma State defense

Finally, someone has noticed this.  I've been trying to tell people this all season, but all they see is "103rd ranked defense".  BTW, there's only about 30 or so yards/game between 50th and 103rd rankings, the ranking number don't mean all that much.  The OK State starting defense has only allowed 11 yards per game, or a few points more if you adjust for the fact that they'v only played the equivalent of about 5 or 5.5 games instead of 8.  Still, pretty good numbers.

The defense is actually designed to play this way, because the offense scores so quickly that the defense is back on the field in couple of minutes.  For instance, 9 scores in just over 20 minutes ToP versus Baylor last Saturday.  The defense can't go all-out every play for the 40 minutes the opponent is on the field or they'd be gassed after 3 quarters.  They have to pick their spots. 

Also, the opponents' offensive strategy is usually to keep the OSU offense on the sideline with long drives, which Baylor did repeatedly, for example.  So DC Bill Young has designed his defense to try to take advantage of gives OSU more opportunities for takeaways, which they've been very successful doing.  The bottom line is that you have to consider the results, not just raw stats, which can be very misleading.

Since: Oct 31, 2011
Posted on: October 31, 2011 5:28 pm

In defense of the Oklahoma State defense

Very good piece!!  Well done!  So tired of all the SEC will win NC ... sounds like they don't want to play for it anymore?  Good for OSU and Big XII!  :-)

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