Intriguing Matchups Highlight Spring Game

A few years ago when Iowa State introduced red helmets for their franchise players. The Cyclones were wearing gold helmets as a rule back then, so the red helmets certainly identified to the defense who the best players were for ISU. A similar but more necessary idea for Saturday's Orange-White spring game has head coach Mike Gundy designating five players to wear black jerseys.

The black jerseys signify that they will be able to play on either team. The group is mostly the "Cowboy backs," a new term for the fullbacks and tight ends with Blake Jarwin, Zac Veatch, Jordan Frazier, and redshirt freshman Britton Abbott. The fifth player in black is walk-on cornerback Bryant Reber, who could be needed by either side and will play special teams for both sides.

What most fans want to know is how the quarterbacks split up. Starting quarterback and hero of the end of last season Mason Rudolph will quarterback the White team. He will have first team running back Rennie Childs and veteran backup Caleb Muncrief on his team.

Rudolph's targets in the passing game besides the "black shirts" are highlight-reel catch specialist James Washington, Chris Lacy, Austin Hays, walk-on Cole Neph, and Marcell Ateman.

The offensive line in front of him will included center Paul Lewis, right guard Lemaefe Galea'i, left guard Deionte Noel, and starting tackles Zach Crabtree (right) and UAB transfer Victor Salako ()left. Rudolph will likely depend on Childs in the run game and having Washington as a threat anywhere on the field and Hays as a sure-handed catch guy ought to work well.

The Orange offense has veteran J.W. Walsh at quarterback, and he will share the backfield with Todd Mays, if he is healthy, Raymond Taylor, and Corey Bennett.

Walsh has some really strong receiver options with redshirt freshman Keenen Brown, who at 6-3, 205 pounds has really come on this spring. He also has veterans Jhajuan Seales, Kameron Doolittle, C.J. Curry, and Brandon Sheperd, if healthy. He also has the black shirts available too.

The offensive line in front of Walsh will be center Jaxon Salinas (starter Brad Lundblade is on the team, but an injury will keep him out of the spring game). The right guard will be starter Jesse Robinson and the starting left guard is on the Orange too in Michael Wilson. The tackles will be Matt Mucha on left side and Colby Hegwood on the right side.

The offensive matchups balance out pretty well, with Childs and Washington on the White giving them, in my opinion, a slight advantage. Rudolph and Washington could be a tough connection to deal with for the Orange defense.

Defending those offenses could be the key to victory on Saturday. Rudolph will need those starting tackles as the Orange defense has Big 12 sack leader Emmanuel Ogbah. The defensive tackles will be Vincent Taylor and Eric Davis.

Youngster Jarrell Owens and Jordan Brailford are at the opposite defensive end. The linebackers will be Devante Averette at weak side, three-year starter Ryan Simmons in the middle, and either Kirk Tucker or Gyasi Akem at the "star". Corners Ramon Richards and Ashton Lampkin with safeties Jerel Morrow and Jordan Stern make up the secondary.

Ogbah versus White offensive tackles Victor Salako and Zach Crabtree will be fun to watch.

The White defense will feature defensive ends Trace Clark and starter Jimmy Bean. Inside are tackles Ben Hughes and Tyler J.C. newcomer Motekiai Maile, who has a chance to be really good. He is really big and really strong.

The linebacker corps features two starters coming out of spring and a highly regarded backup. The starters are Seth Jacobs on the weak side and newcomer Jordan Burton at the "star". The highly regarded back up is Cal transfer Chad Whitener, who has a really strong spring and proven he can help give Simmons a chance to rest and not play every defensive snap.

Keven Peterson is a lock down for the White at corner and physical Darius Curry will be opposite him. The safeties are Tre Flowers and either Deric Robertson or Dylan Harding.

Walsh is still the same guy and loves to take off and run when the play breaks down. Jacobs and Burton at linebacker will be a reason for Walsh to have his head on a swivel.

Here are the Orange and White rosters for Saturday's game.

The game kicks off at 1 p.m. and will feature a running clock, with time stopping in the last two minutes of each half. Each team will kick off once and after that the ball will be placed on the 25-yard line after scores.

The teams will punt, but there will be no returns, just fair catch signals. There will be PAT and field goals, but Ben Grogan is not kicking as he is out rehabbing from hip surgery.

I would anticipate the game running until about 2:15 p.m. and Mike Gundy said they were looking to run 50 to 60 plays.

The coaches and players will stay on the field to greet fans afterwards for some 30 minutes. Then, the OSU baseball team hosts Baylor and admission is free at Allie Reynolds Stadium with first pitch right after 3 p.m.

GoPokes Top Stories