OSU: New D, New Swagger

STILLWATER – Perrish Cox, Seb Clement, Jamie Blatnick and other members of the Oklahoma State defense hear it or read it on signs throughout the locker room each and every day. The Cowboy defense has adopted the motto "New D, New Swag" this season, and it has lived up to that motto through the first eight games of the season.

Oklahoma State, 7-1 and ranked ninth in both this week's Associated Press poll and the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) standings, are playing the best defense in Mike Gundy's four years as head coach.

The Cowboy defense has improved dramatically this season after finishing among the worst in the nation each of the last three years, including allowing nearly 450 total yards of offense and almost 30 points per game in 2007. OSU's defense is ranked 64th in total defense (allowing 356.8 yards per game) and 42nd in scoring defense (21.5 points) entering Saturday's Big 12 Conference game with Iowa State at Boone Pickens Stadium.

OSU's last two stops of the No. 1-ranked Texas Longhorns inside the red zone last Saturday are just an indication of how much better the Cowboy defense is than it has been in a long time.

"We've definitely grown. I don't know what the numbers say or the stats say, but I feel we've all matured and progressed as individuals and as a defense," said Blatnick, the 6-3, 252-pound defensive end. "We know that we're getting better. We know we're a different defense and were taking it to heart. There's a lot of pride for us.

"We have a different kind of swagger. We're getting more credit this year than we were last year when it was more about the offense putting up a lot of yards. People are saying this is a different defense, and we're playing off that. We're proving to everybody that we can do it.

"New D, new swag … that's what we've been saying a lot in the locker room. Even though we came up short in the Texas game, it didn't hinder us at all," Blatnick continued.

Clement, the former walk-on who is now a backup linebacker, has watched the Cowboy defense struggle in recent seasons. He has watched as Texas A&M scored 62 points (in 2005), and then last season when Troy (41 points), Kansas (43) and Oklahoma (49) all rolled up to victories.

"We're not the Oklahoma State defense of old," says Clement. "We're much improved. Right after the bowl game, we decided we were going to make a change and do something good this year. I think that's what we've done. It's a new mindset."

The Cowboys are finally grasping second-year defensive coordinator Tim Beckman's schemes, and with more depth than ever before more players are getting onto the field and helping to prevent opponents from staging fourth-quarter comebacks as both Texas and Texas A&M did in 2007.

"It's another year in the system, and everybody knows what they're doing," Clement continued. "There's not a doubt in anybody's mind. Now it's just a mindset of getting it done. We're going to work every day doing the same thing every day, but we're just doing it a little better now.

"We're in great shape first of all. Second, we've got guys who can rotate in and that's what we've been doing, getting guys on the field and we never skip a beat. We're playing the same way no matter who's on the field. It's been really nice to have guys who can come in there," Clement added.

Beckman is pleased that the Cowboy defense is finally started to get recognized.

"The situation here in the past has not been very good for defenses. It's time to build a new image, and that's what we talk about a lot. We want to create a new image," Beckman says.

"The image of one projects the image of all. We want to have a good image, and go out on Saturdays and perform at our top level. I want them to be successful. That's all I want. I'm here to make sure that Oklahoma State can play as good as they can play, and our players can be as successful as they can be."

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