Bill Young: Defensive Tackles Need To Rotate

The Oklahoma State Cowboys defense was cooking along for three quarters Saturday as the Cowboys had given up a total of 236 yards, only 80 rushing yards, sacked the Kansas quarterback three times, and held the Jayhawks scoreless. Then in the fourth quarter the Cowboys gave up 162 yards of total offense, including 107 rushing yards, and two touchdowns to skirt the shutout.

It was the second fourth quarter in a row and the third out of four games where the Cowboys allowed a lot of rushing yards by opponents in the fourth quarter.

We asked several players what happened? Alex Elkins said that Kansas came with their backup quarterback and changed formations and really changed offensive schemes in the fourth quarter. "It was like playing a different offense," said Elkins.

Defensive tackle James Castleman said they just got on a roll. Defensive end Tyler Johnson agreed with him, although both linemen later said that the defense may have been a little tired. Truth be told, the defensive tackles may have been more than a little tired.

Defensive coordinator Bill Young, who has taken some heat from fans expecting this to be a banner season for the defense, is a buck-stops-here kind of guy, and he said that the tackles playing time and reps in games is an issue. We've seen a whole bunch of Calvin Barnett and James Castleman and very little of Davidell Collins, Anthony Rogers, and Christian Littlehead.

"That is more my fault than anybody's. I need to play those other guys more, and that was one of the first things we said in our meeting on Sunday," Young told us. "I'm getting caught up in the play calling and not doing a good job of substituting. I have got to do a better job there."

Head coach Mike Gundy got asked a similar question Monday night on his call-in show with Dave Hunziker and he took the blame. Gundy said he is so enamored with having two defensive tackles that are playmakers that when he sees them out on defensive plays he clicks over to the defensive channel on the headset and asks why No. 91 and No. 99 aren't in the game? He is the head coach, so they get sent back in.

Gundy revealed that Young spoke to him Sunday and said they needed to get more rotation at the position as Barnett and Castleman are playing 60 to 70 snaps a game, Gundy agreed that's too many and that they need to get that down to 40 to 50 snaps a game, and get the other guys 15 to- 0 snaps each.

Young confirms that he has told those other defensive tackles that playing is not a right, it needs to earned. The assumption can be made that if one is not playing that he hasn't "bucked up" in practice.

"I think it is and that is what I told them," Young added. "They all want more playing time, and it is up to them to earn it, but I haven't been playing them as much as I should.

"We don't need guys taking 60, 70 reps a game when you are getting double-teamed every snap, trying to push the pocket, chase the ball, and doing all the things we expect our defensive tackles to do. That is always something we pride ourselves on is having a great two-man rotation. We have done a good job at end and leo (defensive ends) and we need to do a better job at nose and tackle," added Young.

As for the overall defensive effort against Kansas. Young was happy about the improvement on third downs (KU converted only 6 of 18) and fourth downs.

"We were really excited. We stopped them five times on fourth down," said Young. "They had some issues with their field goal kicker, so we knew they were going to go for it. Plus, we had a 20-point lead there for a while. We also performed well on third down, which helped us get them into those fourth-down situations."

Now Iowa State is no offensive juagarnaut averaging 342.8 yards a game and almost 26 points, but they are to be very respected. The Cyclones are back to Jared Barnett at quarterback, the same guy that engineered the upset win over the Cowboys in Ames last November. He is the better protector of the ball than season-opening starter Steele Jantz.

"That is the reason they have gone the other direction," added Young. "The thing that Barnett brings in is a real athletic running ability along with being able to throw the football."

Young also said that the Cowboys' pass rush must get better. "We've got to give them some help with the pass rush and not hang them out to dry like we have sometimes," Young said.

Rotating defensive tackles might help that situation.


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