The 24th-ranked Oklahoma State Cowboys held their final extensive full-speed scrimmage on Thursday as they continued preparations for the season opener at Nebraska on Aug. 30. The two hour, 20 minute scrimmage session included over 100 plays as OSU head coach Les Miles and his staff put the squad through a variety of situations including first downs, third downs, fourth downs, red zone, goal line, coming out, two-minute drill, and an overtime situation. The action took place in 108-degree heat on Lewis Field with the stands empty, but the sound system blaring crowd noise mixed with a healthy dose of the Nebraska fight song. The matchups featured the first and second team Cowboy offensive units going against a scout team defense running the defensive schemes they expect to see from the Huskers. The first and second team OSU defense went against a scout offense, featuring quarterback Donovan Woods playing the role of Jammal Lord, and the running of Nebraska's formations and plays. Miles said his team is not ready for the opener, but they are progressing to his liking with just a little over a week to go until kickoff.
"It was 100 plays-plus in 108 degree heat, and it was exactly what we needed," Miles said following the practice. "We got a lot of guys a lot of snaps in a modified version of what our offense, defense, and special teams will do in schemes we feel Nebraska will play against us. This was a tremendous first game for us today if you will. Some of the mistakes that were made by alignment errors, some penalties, things that we can now get further corrected will help before the first real game."
Coming out from the goal line the Cowboy offense was very impressive with Tatum Bell ripping off a couple of big runs. In between Bell's scampers, quarterback Josh Fields hit Gabe Lindsay and Rashaun Woods for big gains through the air. Bell finished the drive with a short touchdown reception coming from Fields. Part of the success of the offense was the variety of weapons that Fields had at his disposal. Tight end Charlie Johnson had a 23-yard reception to set up a score. Tatum Bell set up another score with his explosive efforts before retiring for the rest of the afternoon. In all, there was plenty of scoring as Rashaun Woods caught three touchdown passes and backup tailbacks Greg Gold and Greg Jones each had a pair of touchdown runs. Gold's TD's came from 11 and 5-yards out, while Jones scored on runs of 13 and 5-yards. Fields also found young tight end Paschal Smith for a touchdown hookup late in the scrimmage.
"We cut down a bunch of our penalties and executed pretty well," Fields said of the offense. "All the receivers are getting better and all of the linemen are too. We just need to stay that way leading up to next Saturday."
The defense was certainly challenged by the performance of Woods as the Huskers' quarterback, but responded to the challenge -- never letting Woods get loose for a game breaking play. Cornerback Vernon Grant, safety Elbert Craig, linebackers Paul Duren, Glenn Jackson, and Pagitte McGee all made big plays defensively. In the interior line defensive tackle Clay Coe was very active along with Antonio Smith, Mike Williams, and Efe Mowarin.
Darrent Williams had an interception when he made a great play stealing the ball from wide receiver Errick McCown, who had run a pass route over the middle. The biggest hit of the day came late in the scrimmage when fullback Shawn Willis was sprinting toward the endzone and safety Bryan Vardeman stuck him in the chest. The two players flew through the air out of bounds. It was a big-time hit!
The special teams also were tested as the return game stood out with several long runbacks by Darrent Williams, Vernand Morency, Daniel McLemore, Gabe Lindsay, and Tommy Devereaux. To add to that, Luke Phillips hit two long field goals.
The Cowboys will finish up this week with a lighter workout tomorrow and Saturday. Sunday will serve as a day off and practice will resume Monday to prepare for Nebraska.