Practice Report: Walsh Shines In Scrimmage

STILLWATER – Fall camp is almost over following Saturday morning's just over two hour practice that included of a 74-play scrimmage for the Cowboys. They will move on to the start of classes on Monday and into the routine that will eventually become that weekly pattern that develops once the season starts with the Thursday night, Sept. 3, opener at Central Michigan.

One huge plus with this camp was health as following Saturday's scrimmage one of the student managers passed out only to be quickly revived and that was really the only action the medical staff had during the final practice of fall camp. Again, the young man seemed none the worse for wear moments later and the Cowboys have stayed relatively healthy in camp.

Cornerback Kevin Peterson had his arthroscopic surgery but is projected back for the opening game. There were a few ankles and hip flexor issues, but even star linebacker Jordan Burton was back on Saturday and had a good scrimmage.

"Well, we had a really good practice, very competitive which is what we want," head coach Mike Gundy said standing outside the Sherman Smith Training Center leaning against the brick wall after the practice. "We were going to go (scrimmage) against each other, it was going to be four more times, but I'm thinking it will be two now.

"They are getting after each other pretty good. There are some prideful guys and it's getting a little violent for me, so we'll back off next week and start working some scout teams. It's a good group and they are fun to watch. You can say what you want but there is a lot of speed out there, lot of guys that can run. It makes for a very competitive environment."

"It was good. Another opportunity. I like when we put the ball down and line it up a little bit," running backs coach Marcus Arroyo added. "We had another chance to get better and polish some things up. We’re moving even closer to be being game-ready."

Arroyo's group is part of that list of players that Gundy talks about having speed. Saturday's scrimmage saw junior college transfer Chris Carson and incumbent running back Rennie Childs get most of the carries. Just as he did in the 118-play scrimmage on Thursday, Carson had a big play as he broke off a 54-yard touchdown run through the right side of the offensive line. Carson, when he is clear, can really take off.

"Chris is pretty much what we expected in regards to being a mature athlete who is big, strong and does really nice things," Arroyo said. "I’m excited about the way he has taken on the role with the one’s."

Carson has had more of the work with the ones, as Arroyo said, but Childs continues to make the battle for that honor competitive as he had several important chain moving runs throughout the scrimmage and later a 10-yard burst for a touchdown.

"He’s been solid. He’s been solid all throughout the spring," Arroyo said of Childs. "He’s another guy who has been trending up since I got here. He has obviously built off of the spring. He’s a ‘Steady Eddie.’ He’s done a really nice job, and I’m excited to see him continue on."

You saw more of the speedy freshman Jeff Carr out of Temple, Texas in this scrimmage and he also did some nice things. The head coach continues to list Carr as one of about four freshman that could figure in the plans early on in the season.

"Carr has done a really nice job. He’s another guy who is really explosive and displays that he’s got some talent that we can put out there, probably pretty early on," Arroyo analyzed. "He’s gotten better every day. That’s the best part about those guys. They’ve both gotten better every day."

Carr is solid to earn playing time and his equal on defense is safety Kenneth McGruder out of Alief Taylor High School in the Houston area. McGruder got significant reps on defense Saturday with playing time with the second defense and some package groups.

I'm not sure if McGruder and Carr ever played against each other but at one point he fit up in the hole with Carr on a run and it was solid contact, kind of a hello freshman to freshman.

"McGruder is going to be the only guy that may play the way I see it," Gundy said of the defensive side and freshmen. "Darrion Daniels (defensive tackle) is certainly good enough to play. We'll probably play (Jeff) Carr and (Jalen) McClesky.

"I said that a week ago and I don't know that for sure, but we are very fortunate right now (on defense) in that McGruder has shown up and Darrion Daniels I think is mature enough and strong enough but I'm not sure they will play him. We'll see."

The defense played well but the offense had their moments. Gundy was complimenting senior quarterback J.W. Walsh. Walsh's father and former coach, John Walsh, the head coach at Denton Guyer High School, was in the house and so was a good friend and coach Walsh's first college quarterback in Kirby Freeman, who played at Miami, Fla.

It was a good day to check in on his son as Walsh ran the ball well with two long breakaway runs and he also threw three touchdown passes.

"J.W. made a lot of plays, and it is what it is," Gundy said. "There's not any real secrets to him and he's going to play and we're going to use him. There's a different segment of offense that we've had in our system five, six years ago. We're going to use that with him. He's like a hitter (in baseball) when he gets going he could go 20-for-30. He gets hot and get rolling and he can do it. He certainly got hot today."

Gundy said having Walsh as that change-up or alternative quarterback is going to be a major weapon. It will prove to be a real problem for opposing defenses.

"We worked a lot of tempo today," Gundy added. "We, and I, wanted to see the offense play fast and I saw guys out there and they were not in the right spot at times and they have to get that adjusted and get the snap off. That is why we practice.

"The flip side of it with the defense is it forces them to play fast. Alignment. technique, and speed are so important and a defense that has to face a pressure, up-tempo offense, it's not the easiest thing to do. We worked a little more on that than we do in a normal scrimmage."

Now after the work and meetings on Saturday afternoon then players get the traditional two days off with an off day and only a meeting on Sunday and Monday off for the first day of classes.

Practice resumes on Tuesday and a different routine will be established. As far as the players having some significant time off for the next few days starting with a Saturday night where a lot of pre-semester revelry is bound to take place. Gundy spoke to the team after practice about their responsibilities to the program, to themselves, and to each other.

"I touch on it with them every day, but tonight the incoming freshmen are out and 60 or 70 of them will be in some sort of position that they aren't normally in, and 19 years old, there's a lot going on, and they have to protect themselves," the head coach explained.

"Part of college is learning how to protect yourself and that's just part of it. It's always a nervous time for us and we have lunch and meetings and special teams and more meetings later on, so we still have work to do later today. I'm old but I'm not so far removed that I don't know that there is a biological clock in their brain that goes off at about 8:30 tonight based on human nature."

Gundy preached to the players to watch each other and if you see a teammate in a bad position, a bad spot, then get him out. It's a sermon the players have heard often, nearly every day and certainly after every game. Another chance to follow directions, follow a game plan will come Saturday night. So far this team has done a good job with following directions and taking coaching. It has been a very strong fall camp for Oklahoma State.

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