By John Tranchina
The Associated Press
STILLWATER — There’s no time to celebrate for Caleb Lavey.
The Oklahoma State linebacker was named the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week, but he’s more interested about facing UTSA. He wants to keep looking forward after piling up a game-high 11 tackles in the Cowboys’ 21-3 season-opening victory over Mississippi State.
“It’s pretty cool, I’m honored,” the 6-3, 235-pound Lavey said. “But at the same time, when you’re playing week in and week out, you kind of have to forget about Mississippi State and move on to UTSA.”
That attitude is just one of the things that endears him to Oklahoma State defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer.
“If you know Caleb like I know him, he shrugs that off like any other time he hears someone talk about him, good or bad,” Spencer said. “That’s why he’s such a great leader. He realizes in two weeks they could be saying something totally different about him, and that’s what I love about the kid.”
As good as his performance on the field was, what truly defines Lavey’s value to the defense was his leadership.
“All he cares about is lining up the next week and being the leader of the defense,” Spencer said. “That kid was unbelievable on the sideline Saturday. You talk about a champion and having one heartbeat, he was that guy. But he’s always been that guy. It’s stuff he’s been doing for years. He’s an emotional guy, he’s encouraging, just the epitome to what a leader is.”
After allowing a 40-yard field goal in the first quarter, the defense held Mississippi State scoreless the rest of the way and allowed the Bulldogs to cross midfield just three more times. The defense was particularly strong on third down, limiting the Bulldogs to just two conversions on 16 attempts.
Defensive tackle James Castleman credits Lavey.
“He was everywhere, he was jumping off the walls, he was screaming, he was hip and hollering,” Castleman said. “We all started noticing, we all started playing harder. As a D-lineman, when we know we have someone like that behind us, that’s going crazy, hip and hollering, about to give all he can for the team, it makes us want to give all we can for him.”
The Cowboys allowed just 111 yards rushing, something that UTSA, which totaled 157 running yards in its 21-13 triumph at New Mexico last week, knows it will have to do effectively to have a chance today.
“The really good teams I’ve been around have been able to run the football, and we’re going to be able to do that,” UTSA coach Larry Coker said. “They’re very big and physical up front. We’re going to challenge our offensive line and running backs to establish the run.”