Glenn Spencer Has Numbers At Linebacker

The deepest position on Oklahoma State's team heading into the season opener with Savannah State has to be at linebacker. There is no doubt that for quality depth the duo of Joseph Randle and Jeremy Smith followed up by talented sophomore Desmond Roland makes running back strong. However, it's incredible to have a solid three deep at linebacker and feel that all of them can play.

Think of past years when you'd have to patch up linebacker, defensive line or safety ... almost any position that suffered an injury or two. Now on defense every spot seems pretty solid as far as depth, except maybe cornerback where it gets young and inexperienced in a hurry.

However, linebacker is really loaded with that 3X3 situation.

"It's a situation where we're allowed now to use multiple personnel groups and not get caught in a mismatch situation," said co-defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer. "Not that we're in the perfect set up every time, and not that the offense lets us (substitute) every time.

"We're trying to get the best personnel group with what we are seeing from the offensive set. Sometimes you can do it and sometimes you don't. The biggest part of it is that you get on one of those seven-, eight-, nine-play drives, or even the third or fourth quarter and not only are your twos fresh, but your ones have not had to go 70 or 80 snaps and they still have a good bounce in their step where they wouldn't have several years ago when I had Orie Lemon out there for 90 snaps one game."

Spencer says it is also good that they can take advantage of diffreent strengths from different linebackers. For instance, back up weak-side linebacker Nico Ornelas is really good on pass coverage and has good speed. Ornelas can sub for a tired Alex Elkins at the weak-side position and give the defense better ability to cover receivers in the slot or usually out of the backfield.

Elkins understands that, but says it creates another situation other than taking off some of the playing time and some of the pressure.

"To be honest, it doesn't take off to much pressure just because of the fact there is going to be competition throughout the season," said Elkins. "It's not necessarily that I'm worried about losing my job because I shouldn't be, but I am. Having someone beside me to push me is good for me and good for the program."

Linebacker does give Spencer all kinds of options but it is on the defensive line, especially at the two take positions. The Cowboys have five players that can rotate in with James Castleman, Anthony Rogers and Christian Littlehead at the one, and Clavin Barnett and Davidell Collins at the three technique tackle.

"Those guys, with what we ask them to do, are going in and out," said Spencer of the defensive line. "If a guy goes more than five reps and doesn't roll out then something is wrong.

"We are going to have those guys rolling in and out all the time. You have to have multiple guys inside with the pressure our offense and others like it do every day."

It truly is the more the merrier on defense, and right now may be the best it has ever been in numbers in Stillwater.

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