During Oklahoma State's media availability at Karsten Creek on Thursday, newly-promoted defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer answered a few questions for OSI.
He talked about schemes and players, and was surprisingly open about exactly what he was looking for this year.
OSI: I was looking at last year's defense up against the 2011 defense, and there wasn't much difference other than turnovers. Is the aggressive scheme you played in the spring game an attempt to get your players in a better position to make those turnovers by getting them closer to opponents?
Spencer: What we're doing schematically isn't necessarily to force turnovers, it's just to be sound and challenge the offense. We'll try to stay a step ahead of the offense as much as we can, and try to keep them guessing as much as we're trying to figure out what they're doing and try not to be predictable. I thought we made some gains in the spring doing that.
It seems like Justin Gilbert is most comfortable playing bump-and-run coverage and coming up to the line to press receivers, and he definitely has the body and physical tools to play that way. Is that what you've seen from him?
Oh, I don't know. He has to be comfortable doing a lot of things. You just have to pick your places, you can't leave anyone on an island all the time. We have to take pressure off our corners, and we have a lot of things we can do that make us all better.
What did you think of what he went through last year? There was a lot of criticism and he didn't have the year he wanted to have. What was your perspective?
It goes back to people not realizing how everything ties together. They see a play given up and assume it's him, and that's so far from the truth. Until you know what we tried to do schematically at that time, which maybe he was supposed to have help come and it didn't come, or maybe he was supposed to press the receiver and there's no one in the country who can cover a division 1 receiver for five or six seconds. He's gonna get free. The disappointment with me wasn't with Justin, there are a lot of factors involved as to why we weren't successful. I'll never isolate one individual, there are a lot of other factors that came into play there.
Because of what we've heard about him in workouts, do you throw a young guy like Vili Leveni in there? It doesn't happen often, but maybe he's got the "It factor" to make something happen?
We really have that approach with all of them. All of them will get some shots the first few practices. Mike and I met for a long time yesterday to figure out how to divide reps. The first few weeks you want a rack of plays for your young guys, but you want to come out of the first few days of pads and see if those young guys have a shot. I wouldn't put him above the others, we haven't been around them so I don't know how we'll be. I'm not sure physically how he would be able to be, or mentally. Definitely mentally, once we start throwing things at them, their heads will be spinning.