Pat Kinnison

Oklahoma State middle linebacker preparing to face Kansas State

OSU middle linebacker Ryan Simmons is doing more than his fair share for Cowboys defense

Oklahoma State was back on the practice field Tuesday after their regular Monday day off. Head coach Mike Gundy was very engaged in working with the offense and seemingly working to install some of those items he hinted in the postgame radio conversation on Saturday that he thought would help the offense and, in particular, the run offense.

Quarterback Mason Rudolph was guiding the first team offense and looking sharp and none the worse for his freaky second half play in the win over Texas.

Over on the defensive field, coordinator Glenn Spencer was yelling at his defense for blown assignments as if they hadn't stopped anybody this season. That's the deal with this defense, past accomplishments are retired and they move on to the next challenge without entitlements.

A lot of the defensive players fit into that mindset but none any more than starting middle linebacker Ryan Simmons. The senior and virtual four-year starter from Cibolo Steele High School in Texas was really proud to finish his career having never lost to Texas in Austin.

"When you think about all the circumstances that went on in the game, coach not having the headset and not getting the opportunity to get another look," Simmons explained, "(the defense) being able to adjust and hold (Texas) to such little yardage in the second half is a major confidence boost for us. I just feel great that we finished, and we're able to get the offense the ball back."

So far this season Simmons has 13 tackles, nine unassisted, but besides his tackles he has helped open up opportunities for others. He missed most of the UTSA game after suffering an ankle injury in practice early that week. He played the first two plays and then Chad Whitener stepped in and handled much of the rest of the game before giving over to Kris Catlin and Josh Mabin.

In the Texas game, Simmons became the football equivalent of the defensive point guard using his presence to tie up blockers and influence offensive players to fall into the path and hands of defensive teammates. One of those plays was a huge sack by cornerback Miketavius Jones.

"That's how it has to work. You can't ever think selfishly, you have to stay within the defense and know what your job is," Simmons said of his role at times. "When you try and do too many other things, then stuff starts getting out of whack. Just making sure that everyone does their job is what everybody holds themselves accountable for." 

Now it is time to get a little revenge. Last season in Manhattan the Cowboy defenders played their hearts out but offensive inadequacy and special teams mistakes added up to a landslide that the defense had no chance of stopping. Now, the defense is even more stout, and the offense and special teams should be able to play along.

Kansas State is the next team on the schedule.

"There are more blockers. Sometime they will call quarterback runs, that's probably their top play," Simmons said having already done his fair share of video study. "And they will have a fullback, running back and a puller coming. So you have to have people running and getting a good read before the snap happens. We're going to get locked in and we're going to make sure we do our best job possible."    

A fullback named Gronkowski and that should make it even more interesting for the senior middle linebacker having fun in his final year.

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