Last season with two first-round draft choices on offense in quarterback Brandon Weeden and wide receiver Justin Blackmon you knew the offense would be a little ahead and usually spectacular. This fall camp the defense has had its share of days at practice where coordinator Bill Young's crew has had the heavy hand.
But Saturday was not one of them. The one-hour, 21-minute scrimmage was won by the offense.
"We had a good scrimmage, about 115 plays, and the offense was very effective today," said head coach Mike Gundy into an army of microphones, recorders and cameras afterwards.
"The defense gave up too many big plays. Offense played pretty effective in the early part of the scrimmage and did a nice job of taking care of the football. I think we stayed fairly healthy.
"I was pleased with the effort, pleased with our body language, our tempo, (and) the speed we played with on both sides of the ball was good. It was a good scrimmage and it was a productive evening for us," Gundy added.
It was a fast start as defensive coordinator Bill Young rallied his defensive players after the first two series produced touchdowns for the offense.
Wide receiver Tracy Moore agreed with Young as the offense and quarterback Wes Lunt started fast.
"Offense came out rolling," said Moore, who said he was pleased with his play and production. "He (Lunt) started slinging it. He's come a long way and he is getting really comfortable in the pocket and reading blitzes and reading coverages. He's made a huge jump."
Young said, "We just have to play a lot better and coach a lot better. We've got three weeks to get a lot better. We have a chance to be pretty good. We didn't look like it today, but we do. You have to give the credit to the offense. I thought they played really well, and I thought Wes (Lunt) threw the ball extremely well."
Lunt spread it around as Moore, Isaiah Anderson, Charlie Moore, Blake Jackson, Blake Webb, C.J. Curry, Brandon Sheperd, Jhajuan Seales, Austin Hays, and John Goodlett caught passes with the first or second units on offense.
It's like Gundy has said to the media and Cowboys fans throughout the spring and summer, some of the stars are gone but from top to bottom this is a better football program.
"I think so," said Gundy again. "Anybody that follows us real close and watches our football team will know two things. First, we haven't arrived. We still have work to do. Second, we're a better football team than we were two years ago, and overall, better than we were last year other than two or three great college football players. We all know great players win a lot of games. I think we are in good shape."
"They are good," said middle linebacker Caleb Lavey of the offense. "They have some awesome weapons. The quarterbacks looked great today, and they hit some big plays on us."
The scrimmage, which also included work on just about all phases of special teams, wasn't completely offensive oriented as the defense did finish strong. Young's group had a flurry of turnovers that the Cowboy defenders have become known for coming up with.
"Defense actually rallied a little bit there late and forced some turnovers," said Gundy. "The offense turned the ball over back to back and got into some trouble in a two-minute situation a couple of times, and the defense did a nice job of forcing those."
Lavey said, "The good thing about the scrimmage is it shows us exactly what we need to work on, and we have three weeks to get it done. Now we have to be our biggest critics. The coaches push us to finish every play and I think that really pushed us to finish drives and not get down on ourselves. We gave up some drives, but then we turned around and we came up with some turnovers."
"No question about it, as a coach you always look for the negative and you always look at the corrections," said Young. "We do have a chance to be good, but didn't look it, and we played a pretty good offense today."
It was also an opportunity for the defense to work on some of their packages, designed for slowing down and stopping high-powered Big 12 offenses, against an offense in full tempo, and that is what they caught.
"This is the first time that we've substituted on third down and had tempo plays," said Young for the defense. "That is great that we got to work on that because people are going to do that to you. If you try to do a substitution on a third down and they don't substitute then you have to get them in a hurry. It comes back on me and I should have done a better job of that."
A full Big 12 crew of officials, headed by new referee David Alvarez, referred the scrimmage. That crew will be back in Stillwater on Sept. 1 as they are the crew assigned for the Cowboys opening game against Savannah State.
The video from Saturday's scrimmage will be graded and reviewed Sunday as the players will get the day off before coming back and getting back into the flow of fall camp on Monday with a two-a-day practice schedule.
The next scrimmage is scheduled for next Saturday when the plan is for the Cowboys to go through another 6 p.m. scrimmage. This one inside Boone Pickens Stadium.