Orange-White Game: A Day Later

The "Golden Rule" of spring football is not the real "Golden Rule" as in "do unto others as you would have them do unto you." Let's call it to orange rule of spring football games as that is what it would be at Oklahoma State, the green rule at Baylor or the purple rule at TCU and Kansas State. You want there to be balance.

If you come out of it praising the offense and being overly happy with quarterbacks, runners, receivers, and the offensive line then what does that say about the defense? If the spring game becomes all about turnovers forced and negative plays like sacks and critical stops on third down then what does that saw about your offense?

"I enjoy watching our players and the effort they are giving out there. I like our schemes on both sides of the ball and I like our depth," Gundy said about his Oklahoma State football team and his view from behind the offense most of the game on Saturday.

"We all know that we have to stay healthy at the interior defensive line position, and if we get some plays out of the running back and quarterback we have a chance to be a pretty good football team. Overall, I just enjoy the staff and the team, and it's just fun for me to come to work every day."

A head coach wants to reflect back and have visions of good things happening on both sides of the ball. Gundy heads into this week's post-spring player interviews and then the May recruiting evaluation period, which requires him to stay on campus, with that positive scenario of feeling good about his offense and his defense. Let's take a look at why.

The coaching staff did a nice job of breaking up the team into two pretty equal teams for Saturday's Orange-White spring game, yet the White was a 31-13 winner on the scoreboard. Let's start with how that happened.

A defensive or special team score is always huge in turning a fairly equal match-up into a decided one. So when veteran corner Kevin Peterson, who veteran quarterback J.W. Walsh had to be conscious of each play as in where he was lined up, picked off an overthrown pass that was impacted by the pass rush of the White's star linebacker Jordan Burton having long arms in the air blocking some of Walsh's throwing window and view, that made a big difference.

For the defense in that situation it was a sudden change situation as the White's Mason Rudolph had just been intercepted on a really good play by Ramon Richards in a one-on-one situation with receiver James Washington. Washington would later win some of those battles with three catches for 101 yards.

Give and take was experienced throughout the nearly hour and 25 minute contest. Rudolph threw just the one interception and his defense managed to completely turn it around into a touchdown swing. The White did fumble once and that led to a field goal, so again, a nice sudden change recovery for the White defense.

It has to be a little concerning that the White managed 409 yards of total offense as Rudolph and freshman quarterback John Kolar combined for 14-of-21 passing for 275 yards and led by Rennie Childs and his 83 rushing yards the White rushed for 134 yards.

On the other side, the Orange had 319 total yards, nothing to sneeze at. The defense was not as free with what they were permitted to do as the offense and the White offense may have had the most critical personnel advantage in the game with both starting offensive tackles in Victor Salako and Zach Crabtree.

My radio broadcast partner, Dave Hunziker, suggested in our broadcast on the Cowboy Radio Network that we spotlight players we thought could move on to play in the NFL because every strong contender for a major conference title and beyond in college football has to have players that can play in the NFL. He's so right.

Immediately, I thought of Peterson and the Big 12 sack leader at defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah. Both of those guys could likely go play in the NFL right now, but after one more college season this fall the NFL should be licking their chops to get those guys in the draft.

They are joined by a number of skill players including quarterback Mason Rudolph and at least one other of their fellow offensive linemen in Jesse Robinson, a big masher that has a ways to go but has a body that the NFL scouts love to see.

"They're the ones working at their craft," offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich said speaking about the entire offensive line and not just the two tackles. "They're the ones who take pride in themselves. I think we saw it toward the end of last year, the amount of pride they had in themselves. Over time you're going to get better. You're going to improve as long as you work hard and have great attitudes, the way our guys right now have."

"It's a different offensive line really," starting right tackle Zach Crabtree said. "There's a whole different level of energy that we feel in the meeting room. There's confidence and a sense of excitement to be in that meeting room and learn and get better. We're a completely new offensive line. I haven't seen the film yet, but from the way it looked we looked better today."

In the end, there were a lot of standout performances on Saturday but those two tackles being placed on the White team made a huge difference in turning the outcome of two really equal looking sides into a 31-13 outcome. The really good thing for Gundy and his team heading into the 2015 season is they all come back together for next fall with all the pieces, including those two fine offensive tackles, all working for the orange and the white.


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