Quarterbacks Star In Final Scrimmage Of Fall

STILLWATER - Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy turned up the heat a little bit in the Sherman Smith Indoor Training Center as the team went through a scrimmage that was reserved in how certain personnel were used. The scrimmage saw more consistency from the defense, especially the first group, and showed consistency from all three quarterbacks.

Expected starter J.W. Walsh, Daxx Garman, and freshman Mason Rudolph all led the offense on scoring drives and all had contributions in some of the explosive plays.

The scrimmage concludes fall camp and the players will be off the practice field until Tuesday when they will get back to work and really point their work toward preparation for top-ranked Florida State in the Aug. 30 opener at AT&T Stadium.

Gundy seemed pleased with the final on-the-field chapter of fall camp, even pointing out major superlatives with the quarterbacks.

"We had another really good scrimmage today, about 115 plays, and we had good effort," Gundy started with his overall observations. "There are areas that we need to work on, certain things we have to improve on. We limited our penalties, for the most part, as a group. That was better today.

"Our tackling was improved and we had some offensive guys that were explosive at times. The quarterbacks really played the best that they've played in a scrimmage in a number of years here."

Number of years could be the key part of that sentence. If a number of years can be three, and it can be, then I'll go for it. However, there were a few preseason scrimmages heading into the 2011 season that I remember Brandon Weeden being pretty impressive.

Walsh played well, ran the ball well and connected on a number of passes including a good shot to Jhajuan Seales. Cornerback Kevin Peterson, who is as good as any cover man in the Big 12 and maybe in the nation, liked what he saw.

"James Washington and Chris Lacy are both really good athletes," Peterson said of the two freshmen receivers in the rotation. "They both have really good technique and they don't show keys like most freshmen usually show. J.W. likes them as really good targets to go along with all the other guys like Jhajuan (Seales), Brandon (Sheperd), Marcell (Ateman). The receivers have had a good camp."

Like Walsh, Garman was effective and threw the ball really well. Speedster Tyreek Hill did not play much at all during the scrimmage, which was a wise choice on the part of the coaching staff. After several good plays Rennie Childs was out for the rest of the day. Desmond Roland got the most reps of any of the trio of frontline running backs and he showed his usual tough running style.

The receivers played well across the board and freshman quarterback Mason Rudolph had a picture perfect fade for a touchdown to fellow freshman James Washington causing the usual compliments on the freshmen receivers that you read in the previous comment from Peterson.

After the scrimmage, Gundy was asked about Garman in particular and turned it back into an overall compliment to the quarterbacks.

"He threw the ball effectively," Gundy added on Garman. "We had probably as good a scrimmage at the quarterback position as we've had in a number of years."

Could it be that the success of Garman, Rudolph, and the second and third offensive personnel has more to do with their ability or the green inexperience of the backups on defense? "It could be a combination of both," answered Gundy.

Peterson had the one turnover in the scrimmage with an interception late that he had perfect position to make. Both he and the defense as a whole was hungry for a takeaway at that stage of the scrimmage.

"It was fun making a play (interception for the first time in a scrimmage this fall)," Peterson said. "I didn't have a PBU (pass broken up) or anything going to the end of it. The way we are trying to do our technique now is we are trying to blanket the receivers as much as we can. It is hard to do that every play, but J.W. is having to put the ball into tight windows and he is making good decisions. He hasn't put the ball up for grabs at all and has been putting it where only the receivers can get it."

Overall, defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer, who at times has shown pain in his answers on the advancement of the young defenders, seemed kind of happy while by no means being satisfied. He was very happy about one aspect of the scrimmage.

"No injuries today," Spencer stated the most obvious good news out of the scrimmage. "I pulled the ones out pretty early today and so the second, third, and even the fourths and some young freshmen we needed to get them on tape because they hadn't seen a lot of reps in camp.

"The first unit functioned pretty well and then the second unit gave up to many X-plays (explosive)," Spencer continued. "We get a big evaluation off this tape so I'm looking forward to going in and watching it right now."

Talking about personnel decisions that will need to be made before the team practices again on Tuesday, Spencer was asked whether there were really that many decisions to make.

"There will be a lot of young linebackers that will travel because they will be backups and they will help us on special teams and kind of the same thing with the DBs," Spencer started on discussion of personnel decisions.

"Up front we've got some depth so there won't be a lot (of discussion) up front, so there's not going to be a lot. Up front most of the young guys we'll be able to redshirt right now. Backer-wise probably none of them and in the secondary there are probably two or three guys on the bubble that their play today will probably decide if we are going to shelve them for next year or not."

"They've got a ways to go, there's no question," Gundy added with his opinion of the defense. "When you watch them play they are competing and playing hard but they are making the mistakes that young players make. There is not any way to correct it in a speedy fashion because it takes time. They are learning and they are improved.

"I think I counted out there and there were eight freshmen out there at one time. It's a good thing but you also hold your breath at the same time."

Camp is over. The players ate lunch after the scrimmage and then picked up a brown bag that will serve as dinner tonight or a snack whenever. They have Saturday night to be college students celebrating the final weekend before school starts and the arrival of the student population in Stillwater.

Sunday afternoon it is back to meetings and then Monday back to classes before getting back to thinking about the Florida State Seminoles on Tuesday.

We believe J.W. Walsh is the starting quarterback. Bank on it. We believe the running backs and receivers are potentially very special. We believe the offensive line is okay but needs to stay injury free. We believe the defensive line is deep and talented, really deep and talented. Ryan Simmons is going to make sure he has a linebacker corps. The secondary is better than we thought and kicker Ben Grogan made a couple of 50-yard plus field goals to finish camp. We believe it is time to move forward. Good bye Fall Camp.

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