Spring Football: What To Expect Saturday

The Oklahoma State Cowboys concluded the next to last week of spring football and the 12th of the NCAA allotted 15 practices on Friday with a 75-play scrimmage. It could very well have served as a preview of the "finale" for the spring this coming Saturday in front of the fans at Boone Pickens Stadium.

Before Saturday's "finale" the Cowboys have practice number 13 (Monday) and number 14 (Wednesday).

The scrimmage last Friday, which was shorter than normal, was the second major scrimmage of the spring, and was shortened due to several players sitting out with mild to moderate injuries. The offensive line was probably impacted the most.

Spring has still been likely what head coach Mike Gundy realistically expected in moving his program forward to what could be a very strong 2013 season.

The offense certainly seems to have jelled with new coordinator/quarterbacks coach Mike Yurcich. The quarterbacks seem very comfortable, and the execution and tempo on offense has been high.

The defense has maintained a more challenging and aggressive posture in practice, and that has been both good and bad for the offense. The offense has reacted to the challenge but the defense has had its share of success.

While Saturday's final practice will be sort of like of a scrimmage within a game format, and will be vanilla in flavor, fans should look for the increased aggressive schemes of the defense and how those schemes will impact the offense.

They can also see how the tempo of the offense under Yurcich is very fast and maybe more rapid than it was under Dana Holgorsen, when the Cowboys routinely ran 90 to 100 plays a game in the 2010 season.

With the knowledge that admission is free, fans need to enter on the south side of Boone Pickens Stadium. My best guess is you will be out of there around 3 p.m. in order to make it to baseball and softball games also being played on campus.

Remember, the game will be broadcast on selected stations on the Cowboys Radio Network with Dave Hunziker, John Holcomb and your's truly.

From a player standpoint, like last spring, this is Cowboys fans chances to see the quarterbacks, all of who have improved. Make careful observation in evaluating the quarterbacks to note who is with them on offense and what defenders they are competing against, particularly in the back seven of the defense. Those factors are very important in evaluating a scrimmage performance.

Watch out for Desmond Roland at running back as he has matured and developed into a playmaker in both the running and the passing game. I'm not saying he has passed Jeremy Smith by any means, just that he has improved and is ready to play more of an expanded role in the offense.

You know many of the receivers but a few that have not been as involved or involved at all on fall Saturdays include Jhajuan Seales (81), Brandon Sheperd (7), David Glidden (13), John Goodlett (15), and C.J. Curry (8). Watch how they play, both receiving and blocking, as these are some of the guys that need to help to make the offense effective with 7 to 10 receivers needed.

At center, Jake Jenkins has really come on and has been consistent with snapping the football. This has been an earmark of the Gundy/Wickline era of play in this offense as centers from Andrew Lewis, Grant Garner, Evan Epstein, and now Jenkins have had such consistent command of getting the ball to the quarterback. Some might say that's a little thing but watch other teams in primarily gun formations and they have not been as fortunate. The offensive line should be a strong suit again overall.

On defense, note how dominating Calvin Barnett can be. He is truly better than a season ago and quite able to disrupt plays and spill the opportunity to teammates to make a play. The defensive ends are a work in progress but the progression of Trace Clark, Jimmy Bean, Sam Wren and Emmanuel Ogbah is solid.

Linebackers are a strength for the defense, and Ryan Simmons is starting to be quite at home at the weak side linebacker. Check out youngsters at linebacker too as they are all getting better by the practice.

The move of Lyndell Johnson to strong safety has resulted in him being comfortable there and also kicking up the competition which has forced Shamiel Gary pick up his game to a new level.

Those are a few things to look for on Saturday as everybody gets to enjoy a preview that will hopefully carry them through the summer and provide for a few daydreams on the lake or by the pool as fans get excited for Cowboy football and the 2013 season.

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