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Glenn Spencer: 'I love when these offensive guys draw up defenses. They never draw movement'


The last person Oklahoma State defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer would credit with the Cowboys' defensive performance in 2013 is Glenn Spencer himself. 

In his first season as Oklahoma State's defensive coordinator, and his first ever as a coordinator at the FBS level, Spencer helped the Pokes jump from 64th to 19th nationally in scoring defense, and from 42nd to 10th in scoring defense. The Cowboys' 49-17 win over then-undefeated and fourth-ranked Baylor on Nov. 23 was one of the best defensive performances turned in by any team in the 2013 season. He even picked up a FootballScoop Defensive Coordinator of the Year nomination in the process. 

Speaking to a group of 250 or so fellow coaches at the Angelo Football Clinic on Tuesday, Spencer credited his seven returning starters, his fellow assistants, and even the man he replaced Bill Young in his success. "I'm an extremely fortunate person," said Spencer. "I am successful because of those around me."

A few notes from Spencer's talk:

- Playing defensive coordinator in the Big 12 requires you to be pragmatic. You can't possibly take everything away, so you have to decide what you do want to take away. For Spencer, that is 2nd and 5. Oklahoma State started the season playing its corner off the line and, as a result, gave up a lot of short completions. "Gosh dangit," Spencer said, "I got tired of playing 2nd and 5." So he moved his corners on to the line of scrimmage and challenged opposing quarterbacks to complete the much more challenging fade route.

It worked out for them. 

- After hearing Florida State defensive coordinator Charles Kelly obsess over stance, it was interesting to hear Spencer's ambivalence regarding his players' stance. He wants them in a stance they feel comfortable in.

- One reason he doesn't stress stance? Because he's too busy stressing pre-snap movement. Spencer wants his players moving around to add a layer of confusion for the offense. "I love these offensive guys when they draw up defensive alignment. They never draw movement," said Spencer.

- Spencer said he spent years correcting players for taking their first step with their off foot. Then he watched a tennis match and saw players returning 100 mile per hour serves by stepping first with their off foot. He doesn't concern himself with this anymore.

- Every one of Spencer's drills is geared toward an action his players will perform on the field. If it doesn't show up on film, he says, they don't do it. For instance, Spencer had used a drill that involved his players moving through the cage while stepping over bags. This isn't a movement they perform during games, so Spencer has moved away from this drill.

- One more pragmatic choice a Big 12 defensive coordinator must make: Spencer is fine with a defender on an island allowing an extra two yards while forcing a ball-carrier toward the sideline if it means he's eliminating a cutback lane.