How Jim Knowles Can Replace OSU’s Two Biggest Defensive Losses

first_imgWhile you’re here, we’d like you to consider subscribing to Pistols Firing and becoming a PFB+ member. It’s a big ask from us to you, but it also comes with a load of benefits like ad-free browsing (ads stink!), access to our premium room in The Chamber and monthly giveaways.The other thing it does is help stabilize our business into the future. As it turns out, sending folks on the road to cover games and provide 24/7 Pokes coverage like the excellent article you just read costs money. Because of our subscribers, we’ve been able to improve our work and provide the best OSU news and community anywhere online. Help us keep that up. The Cowboys defense will still have several unanswered questions when it gets off the bus in Corvallis next weekend. Its back end is loaded with talent and experience, but up front there are plenty of unknowns.We previously looked at three offensive players coaches would sure love to have back from last year, now let’s look at the pair that will be hardest for Jim Knowles to replace, and how he’ll try.1. Jordan BrailfordThis one is a no-brainer. The All-Big 12 edge rusher led the Big 12 with 0.69 sacks per game and was a force attacking from all over the place in Knowles’ aggressive scheme, especially early.Fielding an elite-level defensive end isn’t a given at OSU — Gundy has had three earn first-team all-conference in his 14 years — so where will the Cowboys look to replace that type of production?It appears that it will fall to redshirt senior Mike Scott and redshirt sophomore Brock Martin to fill that void, and to possibly do so by committee.“I like Brock [Martin] in that position and Mike Scott, who did it a bunch also,” said Jim Knowles. “We’re gonna have guys do that. That worked out really well, and I think it kinda fits the approach we need to take in the Big 12 of having more guys on their feet. That’s what we need to do.”Martin & Scott, which sounds like an 1980s buddy-cop movie duo, have rotated in and out of that position throughout the spring and into fall camp. Scott is OSU’s returning leader in sacks (though just three) and Martin made his fair share of plays in 13 games last year. Neither has seen a start at OSU, but expect both to be featured players this fall.2. Justin PhillipsProbably the biggest need for OSU’s defense is experience and depth at linebacker and the biggest hit to that was the graduation of the Cowboys’ leading tackler Justin Phillips.In 2018, Phillips stepped into Chad Whitener’s vacated Mike linebacker role, where his experience aided him in a job that requires one to make quick reads on opposing offenses and to react in a split second.The Mike basically acts as a defensive coordinator’s field general, and Phillips came into iy with 15 career starts under his belt. This year Knowles is, again, breaking in a new QB for his defense, but this time there will be much less experience to lean on.It appears that Amen Ogbongbemiga (zero career starts) will step into that crucial role and Knowles has been trying to get him ready for it since Day 1.“Amen is a guy who I have been building since I arrived, knowing that Justin (Phillips) was only going to be with me for one year,” Knowles said. “Amen is a guy who I have been building since I arrived.”Amen may be inexperienced, but it looks like he’ll have the final word (🙏) when it comes to leading Knowles’ defense on the field. We can probably expect s learning curve but it looks like his DC is confident in him.“I’m pretty hard on him to pick up the system, to learn the system because I expect him to really be the quarterback of the whole defense,” said Knowles. “I have a lot of faith in him, too.”last_img

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