Derek Mason will take over one of the nation’s best defenses from 2021 as the new Oklahoma State football defensive coordinator. Mason, 52, will take the reins from former OSU defensive coordinator Jim Knowles, who more than doubled his salary in moving on to take the same position at Ohio State.
Mason comes to OSU after one season as Auburn’s defensive coordinator under first-year head coach Bryan Harsin. Though the Tigers finished the season with a disappointing 6-7 record, the defense held its own: Auburn ranked fifth in the SEC in points allowed and limited some high-flying offenses like Ole Miss to regular season lows.
Arriving from Auburn, new defensive coordinator Derek Mason hopes to continue the success of Oklahoma State football’s defense in 2022.
Before 2021, Mason had spent seven seasons as Vanderbilt’s head coach, going 27-55 and making two bowl games with the Commodores. He’s held the same defensive coordinator position with Stanford and has NFL assistant coaching experience with the Minnesota Vikings.
The Arizona native will now take over one of the nation’s top defenses from 2021. The Cowboys ranked as one of the nation’s best in several categories: total defense, scoring defense, team sacks, and third-down conversion percentage.
Behind All-Americans Malcolm Rodriguez and Kolby Harvell-Peel, the Cowboys rode their defense early and often to reach 12 victories for only the second time in program history (both of which have occurred under Mike Gundy). Collin Oliver had one of the best performances by a freshman pass rusher in the country, too. It also marked the first time since 1985 that two OSU defensive players were honored as All-Americans.
The Cowboys improved defensively in each of the past four seasons in terms of yards allowed and scoring defense. The unit will be hard-pressed to better its numbers from the 2021 season: 18.7 points allowed and 297.9 yards allowed per game to opponents while registering more than four sacks per game.
Here are three priorities that should be on Derek Mason’s desk as he begins as OSU’s new defensive coordinator: