The Cowboys have a new defensive coordinator for the second consecutive spring, but this one is tasked with installing a brand new defensive scheme while OSU deals with an enormous turnover in talent.
Bryan Nardo is installing his 3-3-5 defense and one of the first things he’ll need to figure out is which three linemen will play with their hands on the ground. Let’s look at the Cowboys’ defensive line group as spring practice winds down.
The Cowboys said goodbye to some longtime contributors up front with the likes of Tyler Lacy, Trace Ford, Brendon Evers, Brock Martin and Sione Asi being among former starters to leave either due to exhausted eligibility or by way of transfer. Also gone (sort of) is Collin Oliver. The young star has actually just made the move from defensive end to outside linebacker. Expect Oliver to still move around the Cowboys’ front and to continue to make plays on opposing QBs.
While the Cowboys did lose some significant playmakers up front, there is still quite a bit of returning experience, with several linemen eyeing their first opportunity to compete for starter’s reps. Look for guys like Nathan Latu, Kody Walterscheid, Collin Clay and others to push for a No. 1 spot.
Who’s Entering the Mix
The biggest additions up front are former Tulsa defensive end Anthony Goodlow and Utah Tech transfer Justin Kirkland, who will play on the inside. Both could be Day 1 starters.
Goodlow was a Second Team All-AAC pick last year after recording 44 tackles, eight tackles for loss and a pair of sacks. He comes in with 22 starts under his belt. Kirkland has been gaining rave reviews from Gundy for his athleticism and size. As a freshman last season, he tallied 40 tackles, six TFLs and two sacks for Utah Tech.
Spring Depth Chart Prediction
With all that turnover, it can be tough to nail down a starting lineup, and things are sure to change this fall, but this is a semi-educated guess for how the depth chart could look next season.
DE — Nathan Latu, DeSean Brown
DT — Justin Kirkland, Collin Clay
DE — Anthony Goodlow, Kody Walterscheid
The Cowboys are in need of a bounceback defensively from last year, and that all starts up front. OSU seems to have the bodies and a good mix of experience and depth. A lot will depend on how well the group can gel and pick up the next scheme. The good news is that there will be a lost of teams dealing with that type of turnover after such an active #PortalSZN.