Oklahoma State linebacker Calvin Bundage has logged 129 tackles and 20 career starts for the Cowboys over the past three seasons.
He appeared in 11 games as a freshman, and his 13 tackles led all freshmen on the roster. He tallied 62 tackles in 11 starts as a junior last season, and entered this year as OSU’s second-leading returning tackler.
Coach Mike Gundy said during OSU Media Day in August that he was expecting 50 good plays a game from Bundage. The OSU defense has played a combined 158 snaps in the first two games, and the senior hasn’t been on the field for any of them.
Bundage strained his back about a month before the team’s media day but it didn’t sound like it would keep him sidelined for too long. However, the timetable on his return is still unknown.
“It’s really frustrating right now because this is coming down to crunch time,” Bundage said at OSU Media Day. “It’s my last year, so I want to be out there. I want to spend every moment I can with the guys.”
Gundy said it’s difficult to pinpoint a return for Bundage because back issues make things tricky.
“You either feel good or you don’t when you deal with a back,” Gundy said. “We just kind of test him out each week. If we think that he’s to a point where he can compete in practice then we start to get him ready to play in a game.”
Juniors Amen Ogbongbemiga and Malcolm Rodriguez have been holding it down at the linebacker position in the meantime. Rodriguez was moved from safety to linebacker two weeks before training camp ended and he’s picked up on his new position quickly.
He was named the team’s defensive MVP after finishing with nine tackles and five solo tackles in the opener at Oregon State. Ogbongbemiga led the team with 10 tackles and recorded OSU’s only sack.
Ogbongbemiga earned the defensive MVP for Week 2 after getting his second sack on his way to tallying seven tackles with two tackles for loss against McNeese State. Rodriguez led the team with 11 tackles.
The Cowboys will travel to the University of Tulsa to kick off at 2:30 p.m. Saturday. The Golden Hurricane racked up 271 yards on the ground in a 34-16 win at San Jose State.
“They’ve been pretty good up to this point,” Gundy said of the linebacker group on Monday. “We’ll have a different challenge this week with the RPO (run-pass option) system that they’ll face. At this time next week, I’ll be able to give you probably a more accurate answer.”