Defensive Picks To Click: Jacobs And Sterns

After last week's game Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy said he knew that the younger players on the Oklahoma State defense were ready but he still wasn't certain how they would play. There is something about players in their first career starts and getting them in AT&T Stadium on national television against a top-ranked team that causes a pause for coaches.

Going into the game, Glenn Spencer was also certain of what he had seen in the preparation. But the defensive coordinator still wasn't certain what would transpire Saturday night.

The Cowboys defensive staff, as we documented, knew they would try to avoid substituting at linebacker and in the secondary with the hopes of keeping true freshmen back-ups from being indoctrinated against the number-one ranked Seminoles. Not only did they not have to sub much at all, in some cases none, but they received some outstanding performances.

Down 17-0 and with Florida State and Heisman winner Jameis Winston driving to make it 24-0 in the second quarter, weak side linebacker Seth Jacobs acted like the player the Cowboys felt they had recruited out of Northern California and Arroyo Grande High School.

Jacobs arrived at OSU as a safety designated for "star" linebacker only to get bigger in the weight room and grow into a weak side linebacker. Jacobs snared the ball for an interception and turnover that turned the momentum of the game.

"I was very, you know you put in a lot of work and time into going out and playing," Jacobs explained in a humble manner. "The opportunity came and I went out there and played with my teammates. It meant a lot to me and to all the other guys on the defense."

Playing behind Jacobs and the defensive front at free safety is true sophomore Jordan Sterns, who served as the last line of defense. He was a sure line of defense leading the defense with eight tackles, seven of those unassisted.

The product of Texas high school power Cibolo Steele High School made some saving tackles, was sure on his tackles, and even punctuated several with some nice blows. It's the way Sterns plays.

"At Steele I didn't have to fly around a lot, we didn't play Florida State. I like to fly around, a lot of things happen when you fly around and that's the way I played," Sterns said. "It brings a lot of joy to me and I was happy to be out there having a good time.

"I'm on the field a lot more and it is different. I'm not just out there for kickoffs, punts, and field goals. I'm relied on a lot more and it is important to me to respond to that. The last time I really played a full game I was a senior in high school. I can't wait to be out there on Saturday."

As in this Saturday, not against Florida State, but against 1-0 Missouri State. The winners last Thursday over Northwestern State (La.), Missouri State will play a spread offense similar to Oklahoma State punctuated by heavy zone read and vertical downfield passing. It is perfect for these Cowboys defenders that are more than eager to pick up with where they left off and pick up a win.

"We're disappointed with the loss," Jacobs stated. "It was a great atmosphere, but we're 0-1 with the loss and we're disappointed in that. We have to worry about ourselves and when we go out we just have to execute and do what our coaches have taught us. I don't think we take any team lightly. We have to play to the best of our ability no matter who we are playing."

And no matter who is playing. The expectation is that this week Spencer will substitute allowing Jacobs and others will come out. He understands fewer plays means a fresher player, but it doesn't mean he has to like it.

"Whenever I'm in I am just going to play and play as hard as I can," Jacobs said coming off seven tackles and an interception and a pass broken up. "It will be nice if other guys can come in and help but it would not be wise of me to want less plays."

Sterns is in agreement with his teammate. He knew last week that he missed a coverage and that could be avoided with a sub coming on after a big hit.

"It was right after I got hit and I looked to the sidelines and they had already given the signal," Sterns explained. :I didn't get it. (Did you see stars?) Yes, but it's football you just have to shake it off and keep going."

Now with a hefty taste of starting on the Oklahoma State defense these two will keep going. In the end they may end up a lot farther than anyone expected this team to go in 2014. Jacobs and Sterns will click this week against the Missouri State Bears.

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