All those that follow Cowboys defensive line coach Joe Bob Clements on Twitter know that last week the defensive line got to mingle with the Stillwater Fire Department. Clements was frying catfish and the oil kind of got out of control and all of a sudden the Stillwater Fire Department was invited to the party.
"Please keep Joe Bob (Clements) away from oil and fire," defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer laughed. "Leave it up to defensive line coaches, right."
Clements said the worst aspect of it is getting the smoke out of the house. Spencer had his linebackers over earlier in the summer and the cookout went fine. It's a gathering that Spencer wants to be fun but also set an example for his guys.
"I know what I've always utilized it for is to have a different meal for them," Spencer explained. "These kids are treated well, fed well, but when you are at the same cafeteria it is good to go somewhere different and change it up.
"I know when they come to my house, more importantly than just eating a different meal and without getting too deep, it gives me a chance to have them see me in a different light than that guy that is always screaming and demanding this and that from them, I want them to see me as a father and a husband also. I want them to see me around my kids and around my wife, and not that I'm the perfect husband, but I want them to see how to treat a lady. Cleaning up the dishes, helping out, and showing her respect and love and showing the whole household, some of these kids were raised around that and some of them were not."
Oklahoma State fans know Spencer as the fiery leader on the sidelines who jump and chest bump with his players after a turnover gained or a big defensive stand.
Spencer is not the biggest fan of preseason magazines and media hype. He sees that sometimes as undue or not exactly positive pressure. He prefers his kind of pressure.
"First of all, I do put pressure on them but it has nothing to do with what people say they can be or could be. That's garbage! I had a meeting with the defense before they left and I tell them you have people in this building working and fighting for you," Spencer said.
"The pressure I put on them is to be on campus every day and do things right, and then come in here every day and work hard. It is a different kind of pressure."
Maybe, I think some of the fan and media pressure is similar on the field without regard to off the field academics and actions. I agree with Spencer in that the right pressure is the best pressure.
With the Achilles injury to projected starting defensive tackle Villi Leveni there is more pressure on the other defensive tackles like Vincent Taylor, who had a strong spring. There is also highly regarded junior college transfer Motekaia Maile, young tackles Ben Hughes and Eric Davis, and even freshmen Darrion Daniels and Taaj Bakari.
Spencer puts his kind of pressure on the entire defensive line including the returning Big 12 Defensive Lineman of the Year.
"We have defensive tackles that have to proves themselves," he said very simply. "Emmanuel Ogbah has to prove himself. To think he or Jimmy Bean are going to roll out there and have great years is ridiculous. You have to have a heckuva camp and earn everything you get. That's not just football but life. I told them it is the value that they can give to us and each other. We don't have any defensive linemen that have proven they can do it game by game."
The biggest difference on defense is at the position Spencer coaches. The linebackers returns Ryan Simmons for his third season as a starter in the middle and Seth Jacobs at weak side, along with lots of potential depth, some experienced is a new star linebacker that came in in the spring and fit in just right.
"With Jordan (Burton) coming in this spring he has shown me he can function but we have to see it when the lights come on," Spencer said of his starter at the "star" linebacker position. "I'm going to put him in some stressful situations so come that first game it will be slower and more comfortable to him and his fellow linebackers.
"Yes, I'm not trying to avoid the positive there are some guys at linebacker and competition. Playing time is a better motivator than I can ever be and they are fighting for it. They better have their A game every day and be sitting up in the meeting room and busting their butt in drills and then going hard in every rep."
The corners may be even more loaded than linebacker with two-year starter from Indiana Michael Hunter coming in to join All-Big 12 caliber and Jim Thorpe Award watch list senior Kevin Peterson along with Ashton Lampkin and Ramon Richards, who both have extensive starting experience.
"With all those guys, and Kevin, Ashton, Ramon, Michael, and Darius (Curry), all those guys are going to have roles," Spencer added. "We will challenge those guys, and at safety we have Jordan Sterns (free safety) but he can get better and the strong safety position is going to be wide open. We, as a staff, have to do a good job of getting the better matchups."
See, not all the pressure is on the players. Spencer and his staff will take their share of it, so when those chest bumps happen on the Cowboys sidelines everybody is doing a little celebrating. The defense, despite Spencer's cautions, certainly appears to be a unit worth celebrating. The one major question will be development at defensive tackle.