As the Oklahoma State Cowboys continue to push for a Big 12 title, they face a tough test this weekend in conference play. The TCU Horned Frogs have been playing teams tough this season even without the benefit of a high-powered offensive attack. Despite their lack of production, OSU is focused on containing the TCU attack and quarterback Trevone Boykin which means Caleb Lavey will be called on this Saturday.
The senior linebacker has been key to the Cowboys’ improvement on the defensive side of the ball. Head coach Mike Gundy feels like this could be his best defensive group ever at OSU and the numbers back him up. This season, Oklahoma State ranks No. 26 or better in scoring defense (26), run defense (18), red-zone defense (25), third-down-conversion defense (24) and interceptions (17). A major reason for that turnaround has been the leadership of Lavey.
He leads the team in tackles (40) and tackles for loss (6.5) and has also recorded 1.5 sacks, a forced fumble and an interception. His wealth of experience has shown as he continues to find himself in the right place at the right to make the plays that the Cowboys need him to make. In their last game against the Kansas State Wildcats, Lavey made a pair of tackles behind the line of scrimmage and created two turnovers as part of five second-half turnovers forced by the OSU defense as they held on to win 33-29.
Lavey will be tasked with a similar challenge this week with Boykin and TCU. The Cowboys are very aware of Boykin’s ability to pull the ball down and run with it at any time so they will be scheming ways to keep his impact on the rushing attack minimized. That could mean bringing pressure with blitzes or stunts or spying him. Either way it’s going to be vital for the Cowboys to make open field tackles on the talented running quarterback and force him to beat them from the pocket.
That will be where Lavey makes his impact. As the team’s top linebacker, he’s going to have plenty of opportunities to get a line on Boykin. He must take him down every time he has the opportunity. Stifling the dual-nature of Boykin will be pivotal in this game in keeping the Horned Frogs off the scoreboard. If he can shadow the TCU quarterback and make life difficult for him, Oklahoma State has the advantage this weekend.