Oklahoma State football’s defense has improved drastically in the past few years, and team continues to rely on the unit to win games. For the first time in school history, in fact, the squad won three consecutive games against ranked opponents: Kansas State, Baylor, and Texas.
OSU fans are familiar with household names like Malcolm Rodriguez and Kolby Harvell-Peel, who figure to play on Sundays very soon. They’ve helped the Cowboys defense allow only 20.1 points per game (third-best in the Big 12) and 316.7 yards per game (second-best in the Big 12 behind Iowa State) to opponents.
A new player who can step up and helped an improved defense get even better is freshman defensive end Collin Oliver, who has already turned heads halfway through his first season in Stillwater.
Freshman defensive end Collin Oliver has stepped up for Oklahoma State football and is among the nation’s leading first-year pass rushers with 4.5 sacks.
Only one freshman in the nation has gotten to the quarterback more than Oliver, who has accumulated 4.5 total sacks in the Cowboys’ first seven games. Troy defensive end Javon Solomon has 7.5 total sacks, tied for the fifth-most sacks in the nation among all players.
OSU was forced to turn to Oliver early this fall after defensive end Trace Ford suffered an ACL injury in practice during the first week of September. Brock Martin has also been limited due to a left arm injury against Kansas State.
Amid the injuries, the Edmond Santa Fe product has stepped up to fill in the void among OSU’s defensive pass rushers.
His coming out party was the Cowboys’ 24-14 win against Baylor in which the freshman recorded six tackles, two sacks, and three quarterback hurries. The Cowboys held the Bears to 280 yards of total offense — no small feat considering that the Bears average 471.7 yards per game, the 13th-best mark in the nation and best in the Big 12.
OSU has played some talented quarterbacks in the Big 12, which is a league that typically features some of the most high-octane offenses in the country. Without an edge rusher like Oliver to pressure quarterbacks like Texas’ Casey Thompson or Kansas State’s Skylar Thompson, the pressure would be that much greater on Cowboys defensive backs.
Though OSU has good experience and talent in its secondary, it has only four interceptions as a unit through seven games this season.
The Cowboys still face some experienced signal-callers in West Virginia’s Jarret Doege and TCU’s Max Duggan, plus the talented Caleb Williams from OU. If OSU wants to keep contending for its first Big 12 title in a decade, Oliver’s forceful presence pass rushing off the edge must continue later this season.