Young's defense steps up

ARLINGTON, Texas – A lot has been made of the Ole Miss defense being able to stop Oklahoma State's option offense after the way the Rebels didn't stop Mississippi State's in the Egg Bowl.

But the flip side is OSU's defense has to contend with a potent Rebel offense that Cowboy defensive coordinator Bill Young says will be a handful.

"They're very, very physical, and they've got a quarterback who can really throw the football," said the veteran college coach but first-year OSU assistant. "They've got a stable of running backs that can really hurt you. Some are more powerful inside, and some are outstanding running it outside. They're a very, very good offense."

Young, an Oklahoma State alum, said the Cowboy defense of 2009 hasn't really seen an offense that compares to the Rebels.

"We haven't played a team that lined up and ran the football with a fullback in the backfield," he said. "Most of the teams we played were spread offenses, although a few teams ran some fullback. Colorado and Oklahoma both did a little bit. But not many have."

The Cowboy defense has made an impressive turnaround this season under Young. Prior to his arrival, the 2008 OSU defense ranked 93rd nationally in total defense. This season they moved up to 32nd.

The Cowboy rushing defense is quite impressive, allowing only 88 yards a game on the ground, second in the Big 12 and sixth nationally.

OSU may be hurt in that senior veteran starting cornerback Perrish Cox has been suspended for the last game of his college career for breaking team rules. It's anticipated redshirt freshman Brodrick Brown from Houston, Texas, will make his first start for Oklahoma State against Ole Miss.

Young said his defense works hard at causing turnovers and makes it a point of emphasis.

"Nobody in the country works harder trying to force turnovers than we do," he said. "Now we haven't always been as successful as we'd hoped. But a lot of their (Ole Miss) turnovers have been forced turnovers, where the quarterback has been hit and he throws the ball, or the quarterback throws the ball and it's tipped and the guy intercepts it. It's hard to predict if that will happen (today). We certainly hope it will."

Young admits offenses in the Southeastern Conference are mainly a different breed than those in the Big 12.

"The teams in the SEC, the Georgias, the LSUs, Ole Miss, they like to line up and just run the football at you," said Young, who came home to Oklahoma State this season after serving as defensive coordinator at Miami (Fla.). "They like to pound you with a fullback offense. In our conference, Texas has kind of changed over the years. They used to line up and then run the lead play out of the ‘I' and so forth. But a lot of the teams in the Big 12 have gone to the spread offense, which is more of a finesse offense. They still have those physical players, but they don't rely on those physical plays to pound you as much."

The Cowboys got a glimpse of SEC football early this season as they opened the campaign with an SEC Eastern Division foe in Stillwater.

"We opened up with Georgia which allowed us as a defense to line up in two a days and get physical," Young said of the Cowboys' 24-10 win against the Bulldogs. "We had to get physical to prepare for that game. (Head) Coach (Mike) Gundy put in some plays in our offense where we lined up with the fullback and ran the power, ran the lead. It really helped us get better at playing the run."

Young said helping the defensive players believe in themselves has been much of the challenge for him and his staff this year.

"The biggest thing we had to change was the mindset," he said. "We had a veteran group of guys. They had been pounded and pounded about how bad they were, and we tried to talk to them about how good they could be. They really responded."

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