Column: Sneak Peak Of What's To Come

The Oklahoma State Cowboys treated their fans to a "Cliff Notes" version of the entire spring. What the more than 16,000 who were at Boone Pickens Stadium saw Saturday during the Orange-White spring game was a microcosm of the spring (yes, I thought it was closer to 20,000).

Throughout the spring the offense was dominant. That's not to say that the defense, which is looking for more new starters that the offense, didn't have its moments, but the offense was ahead. Between the Orange and the White offenses you saw 144 rushing yards, 726 passing yards, four rushing touchdowns, and six passing touchdowns.

You saw Brandon Weeden throw for 240 yards and three touchdowns despite not being on the same team with his two favorite targets -- Justin Blackmon and Josh Cooper -- last season Blackmon caught eight passes for 87 yards and a touchdown and Cooper, before being dinged in the head, had five catches for 119 yards.

You saw an expasion of the wide receiver position. Weeden kept hitting Tracy Moore for big play after big play. Moore had a great spring and Saturday had four catches for 128 yards and two touchdowns.

Speaking of Moore, Charlie Moore had a good spring and showed off Saturday to the tune of three receptions for 110 yards, including an 86-yard touchdown. Isaiah Anderson, Justin Horton, and Colton Chelf were all good. The only player that showed improvement this spring that was really quiet Saturday was HUbert Anyiam and that needs to change before Sept. 3, as Anyiam could really help this team.

In the running game, Jeremy Smith flashed his brilliance from this spring that included a monster day last Wednesday in a final closed practice scrimmage. Joseph Randle made plays in the running game and caught a four-yard touchdown pass from Weeden.

Kye Staley showed everybody on the sunsplashed Saturday why there is a bright light shining down on him. Stuck with a devastating knee injury that doctors were hoping he could just come back from and walk normal, Staley is doing fantastic and rushed for a game-high 55 yards on 11 carries.

The back-up quarterback position appears to be in the hands of Clint Chelf and he showed why, although the competition will continue through summer and into fall camp as it should. The other quarterbacks had their moments and their mistakes. You can see where J.W. Walsh has a huge upside.

The punting was good. Mike Gundy proclaimed that and although he hopes he rarely has to use Quinn Sharp. Gundy is right, he is good.

On defense, it is clear there are areas that will continue to need help, and help is coming in the new recruiting class. However, the defense had it moments just like it did last Monday when the "D" had its day in team period and repeatedly put the halt to the offense and forced turnovers and man, can the defense do that.

Freshman All-American linebacker Shaun Lewis is an amazing ball hawk. After his first quarter fumble recovery and 51-yard touchdown return, Gundy came over and told myself and trainer John Stemm, "some guys just have that knack of always being around the ball and he does."

Yes he does, and thank goodness for that. He has company as Daytawion Lowe, who missed all of last season because of a freak shoulder injury, picked a pass and returned it 80 yards for a touchdown. The defense scored those two touchdowns and ever-improving cornerback Justin Gilbert showed again why he is one of the best young kick returners in the country with a 97-yard return for touchdown.

Zack Craig is getting better in a hurry and the physical safety picked off two passes including one to seal the game up at the end. Craig also had seven tackles.

New defensive end Ryan Robinson had two sacks, Cooper Bassett, who has had a great spring, had a sack and 2.5 tackles for losses. Middle linebacker Tyler Johnson, who seems to have surged ahead in the competition at that position, had an interception and six tackles. But his competition Caleb Lavey had a game high eight tackles. Richetti Jones had a sack and two tackles for losses.

There are still some holes that will need to be filled in August, but the defense is improving. The offense is really powerful and the new coaches, including offensive coordinator Todd Monken, blended in very nice during the spring.

The wait is on. Sept. 3 can't get here soon enough, because as all of you that were there Saturday saw with your own two eyes in the bright Stillwater sunshine, Oklahoma State football is better than it has ever been.

If this team stays healthy, if young players keep improving, if a few newcomers come in ready to help out at a couple of positions, then the best is yet to come. That was three "ifs," and Cowboy fans that have been around for at least a couple of decades of football season can tell you that is the fewest number of "ifs" ever. Practice may have been closed this spring, but thanks to Saturday you didn't miss a thing and you are completely caught up.


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