Oklahoma Defensive Preview

Oklahoma State may have talent on offense, but the defense has numerous stand out players as well. Read on for a closer look at them and what the Wildcats will see on offense Saturday.

Oklahoma State will come to Arizona Stadium on Saturday having not been tested in their first week of the season. In their season opener, the Cowboys thumped FCS Savannah State 84-0, leaving very little for the Arizona coaches to take away from the game film.

With the blowout victory, few of the Oklahoma State starters saw quality minutes or logged meaningful statistics. The Cowboys' lone preseason All-Big-12 nominee, cornerback Brodrick Brown, had only one pass breakup due to limited playing time.

Even with backups playing, the defense held Savannah State to just 139 yards of total offense (81 passing yards and 58 rushing yards). Because the backups had such a high success rate, it muddies the picture of whether the defense was dominant or the offense was nonexistent.

Either way, the Cowboys will have a tougher challenge when they roll into Arizona Stadium on Saturday night. The Wildcat offense put up 624 total yards, compared to Savannah State's 139 total yards. While it may not look like much in the scoring category as the Wildcats only scored 17 points, but they also left points on the field due to penalties and unforced turnovers.

One thing that should be certain to come out of this contest: Both teams will have a much better idea of how the rest of the season is going to turn out after the final whistle.

Players to watch:

#19 CB, Brodrick Brown – The preseason 1st-Team All Big-12 selection only played a few series in the opener against Savannah State. He was credited with a pass breakup, but no other stats. That doesn't mean much against Savannah State.

Expect to hear his name called more on Saturday. He is the team's returning leader in interceptions (5) and pass breakups (15). He's not a dominate tackler, but knows where the ball will be, making him a playmaker.

#37 WLB, Alex Elkins – As an honorable mention in Big-12 voting last season, Elkins shined on defense racking up 90 tackles, two fumble recovers, a sack, and an interceptions. He is all over the board with his play. He is a fast (4.55 40-time) linebacker and an experienced senior that should be kept an eye on.

In the opener, Elkins had a single tackle to his name, but you can expect that number to be much higher after the Arizona game.

#11 SLB, Shaun Lewis – Like Elkins, Lewis is all over the boards with statistics. However, he is also one of the most veteran players on the team with 19 straight starts, counting back to the final six games of his freshman season.

With the experience, Lewis will be one of the team leaders that are taking the defense into what should be a highly hostile environment at Arizona Stadium. The Cowboys will look to his composure and leadership on the field.

#4 CB, Justin Gilbert – Being a dual-threat star on the Cowboys' team has had its perks for Gilbert. He is a ballhawk at cornerback and also a homerun threat in the kick return game. Gilbert had 59 tackles and 5 interceptions a season ago. He didn't have any stats to his name in the opener, but has the capability to put up all-conference numbers in a heartbeat.

The accolades have just kept rolling in for the junior who was honorable mention All Big-12 last season as well as the Fiesta Bowl Defensive MVP.

#8 FS, Daytawion Lowe – After leading the team in tackles last season, Lowe is already on track this season. He tallied two tackles, including one for a loss, against the lowly Savannah State offense. He is another quick defender who always seems to be in the right spot at the right time.

One thing that Lowe prides himself on is being able to knock the ball loose. He forced three fumbles last season, tying for most on the team. With Arizona's trouble holding on to the ball last weekend (4 fumbles), Lowe could break out and cause a turnover.

Keys to the game:

1. Attack early: Arizona came out with fire on offense the first few possessions against Toledo, but then fell off the table a bit in the middle stages of the game. I'll credit the drop off to a couple of crushing missed opportunities. The Wildcats need to take advantage of the early chances to put points on the board.

2. Limit mistakes: The Wildcats missed multiple scoring chances against Toledo, leaving up to 21 points on the field within scoring distance. Arizona needs to take care of the football and can't afford costly penalties that kill drives. Oklahoma State is going to be a much stronger test than Toledo and those mistakes may not be as forgiving this week.

3. Trust the numbers: Multiple Wildcats are among the leaders in various categories in the Pac-12. There's a reason for it. The offense showed that it can shine and, without a few mistakes, could have dominated Toledo. If the offense can put up 400+ yards against Oklahoma State, Arizona should be in good shape towards the end of the game.

4. Push the tempo: Many players mentioned after the season opener that the tempo wasn't quite as fast as they would've liked it to be. To that point, Arizona had Toledo defense on its heels at certain times during the game. If the Wildcats can speed up the Cowboy defense, then moving the ball and scoring should come easier.

5. Make big plays: There is little doubt that Arizona's chance to win this game is going to be in a slugfest. The defense laid down an extraordinary performance in the opener, but Oklahoma State should still put up points. The offense needs to attack the defense and break off a few big plays in order to have a chance to win.

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