What's The Strength Of The Cowboys Defense?

We've spent a lot of time the last few weeks hitting on the concerns and the positions in need of answers for Oklahoma State when fall camp opens. Now that doesn't mean that answers aren't required at defense line but defensive line coach Joe Bob Clements knows a lot of the coaching staff wouldn't mind being in the position that he and graduate assistant Eric Henderson are in.

That situation is loaded.

"We return some experience," Clements said. "I'm excited to see how these guys perform for us this season. I'm excited about James Castleman and his senior season. I'm excited about Ofa (Hautau) because it was about this time last year that he got here and he has had an entire year to improve now.

"I'm excited about those defensive ends. You know last year at this time everybody was worried about them because they were inexperienced. They aren't inexperienced anymore and we have some depth with a lot of guys that have had some playing time."

Clements mentioned Castleman and Hautau, who will start at defensive tackle. The trio of Eric Davis and redshirt freshmen Vincent Taylor and Ben Hughes will be the back ups at the tackle positions.

At defensive end, starter Jimmy Bean returns along with Sam Wren and Trace Clark, who both played a lot. The Cowboys also have Emmanuel Ogbah, who had four sacks, and redshirt freshman Vili Leveni. Both Ogbah and Leveni are in the 6-4 neighborhood and 270 pounds and can run. Almost as big as tackles, but as athletic as ends need to be.

"They are, and they know that too," Clements laughed. "I'm asking them about their weight all the time and for some reason they just stymied at the 275-pound mark. I'm starting to believe that some of that is intentional.

"Both of those guys because of their size and their ability, they will be able to help us inside too. In passing situations their athleticism will come in to help in pass rush situation."

Don't discount Wren, the junior college All-American out of Yuma, Ariz., and Western Arizona C.C. He played well last season, but Clements knows the trend is for junior college players to really come alive and be much better in their second season in the program. As mentioned before, Hautua is in that position inside at defensive tackle.

"A lot of times you do see a breakout year in their second season because they are used to everything," Clements said. "I'm leaning on Sam with that defensive end group because he is so talented, and he and Jimmy Bean have a lot of experience."

Clements finishes back with Castleman because he is a true leader and a guy that has a lot of desire to play well and to help his team. It starts for this group on Aug. 30 when they play one of the best returning offensive lines in the nation in Florida State.

"They are very well aware of who our first opponent is," Clements finished.

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