Defense Takes Their Turn in Scrimmage

Spring Scrimmage number two and the script was quite different as the defense made big plays and got off to a really good start before the offense came back to provide some highlights on that side of the football.

One of the hazards of spring for coaches is getting worked up over one side of the ball having a better day than the other. It is hard for every practice to be balanced and usually you find some cyclical pattern when it comes to offense and defense. That is unless your offense or defense is especially dominant, which can be a problem but is not one for the upcoming 2017 Oklahoma State Cowboys. Friday the Cowboys held their second major scrimmage of the spring and with the offense having the better of it last Friday as the decibel level on the defensive sideline was a little higher. Today the defensive coaches were a little happier. At least five sacks, some coverage sacks of Cowboy quarterbacks and a pair of interceptions and a pair of recovered fumbles with one of the interceptions going all the way back also led to the defense leaving happy. Head coach Mike Gundy made a comment on this topic on Wednesday that made him sound like a prophet on Friday's scrimmage.

"I would prefer to see the defense win everyday," Gundy said. "My message to those guys in the locker room afterwards is get over it. It's just the way it is in the spring. On Monday last week the defense kind of had their way and then Friday in the scrimmage the offense had their way, the Wednesday before the defense had their way. In spring some coaches go with ones versus twos so they always get the result they want but I prefer ones versus ones and twos versus twos so they get quality work. The coaches just have to get over it."

That was the way the Cowboys went in the scrimmage again this week with primarily ones versus ones, twos versus twos, and threes versus threes. There were some variations as players got work on different units. 

The defense came out fast and the first series ended when defensive end Jarrell Owens got loose on the pass rush and came in and tagged quarterback Mason Rudolph for a sack. Owens came off the right edge of the offense and used his speed to get to the quarterback. The next series came to a similar end but this was on a running play as defensive tackle D.Q. Osborne came off his block and tackled running back L.D. Brown for a big loss. Shortly after that play one defender was able to get Brown to fumbles the ball and in a highlight that would have worked on NFL Films Football Follies, the ball kept squirting upfield before middle linebacker Chad Whitener was finally able to fall on it for a defensive recovery. 

"The defense really had their way early and then the offense made up some ground," Gundy said in real time after the scrimmage was over on Friday. "It was more like 60/40 overall, but the defense played really well today. Our message to them has been to limit big plays and their penalties, Overall, it was the most balanced scrimmage that we've had. Offense played well later and defense played well early. I was stressing to the offense not to give up negative yardage plays and they did a better job of that. Defense forced some turnovers today and they had some big hits. Overall, it was a really good day."

It was not all defense as the first team offense got a drive going and junior running back Jeff Carr finished it when he took a handoff from Rudolph and used a sensational juke move to get into the open field and then a burst to get to the end zone to complete a 30-yard scoring run. 

The defense came back and strung a couple of sacks together with defensive end Jordan Brailford involved in both, one with Osborne, but credit the secondary and corners Darius Curry and Rodarius Williams. Madre Harper and A.J. Green were also involved. Safeties Ramon Richards and Tre' Flowers were also doing a good job in coverage.

"Rodarius (Williams) and A.J. (Green), those guys continue to get better and going against those receivers that is good work," Gundy said.  

It got even better for the defense when sophomore corner Bryce Brown came off the edge on a blitz. The son of former Cowboys great and All-American defensive back Rod Brown deflected the pass by John Kolar and it was picked off by big defensive tackle Ben Hughes who revived the pitch game the defense and kick block units got really good at last season. Hughes tossed it to Kenneth Edison-McGruder and the star linebacker went the distance for the imaginary defensive touchdown inside the Sherman Smith Training Center. 

The two other turnovers came later in the scrimmage as running back Ja'Ron Wilson, who really had a good day overall running the football, had the ball popped free by linebacker Justin Phillips and defensive end Tralund Webber recovered.

Credit red-shirt freshman defensive tackle Cameron Murray with a sack as he got to true freshman quarterback Jelani Woods. Woods also got a lesson later as he had a pass picked off by walk-on safety Phillip Redwine-Bryant.

The offense had their moments later in the scrimmage as they worked on red zone situations and coming off the goal line out of the shadow of their own goalposts. A pass interference penalty set the offense up and L.D. Brown finished a drive with a two-yard scoring run. Ja'Ron Wilson finished another possession with a three-yard touchdown run. Then a few fireworks in the coming off drill as Mason Rudolph hit Tyron Johnson on consecutive pass plays and on the second Johnson shook off the defender and broke free down the sideline for a touchdown. Rudolph finished a drive coming back with a bootleg keeper for a score. Finally, Taylor Cornelius found Chris Lacy in the end zone on a pretty heave for a 50-yard touchdown play.

Credit the kicker that Gundy calls "Philly" in Lansdale, Pa., native Matt Ammedola with connecting of field goals of 34 and 50-yards during the scrimmage.

The Cowboys take the weekend off and then get back to work for practice #13 on Monday, practice #14 on Wednesday, and then get to show off in front of the fans on Saturday, April 7 at 1 p.m. for the annual Orange Blitz Spring Game.

Recruiting Notes

There were a number of prospects and parents taking in the Cowboys second scrimmage of the spring, almost too many to count. Many of the prospects there for unofficial visits were offensive linemen as new offensive line coach Josh Henson seems to be really getting after it and convincing young men to come and check out the Cowboys practices this spring.

The top prospect on hand on Friday was probably Andy Stogner, a tight end from Plano, Texas and Prestonwood Christian Academy. Stogner (6-6, 230) was there with his father. Last season he caught 17 passes for 336-yards and five touchdowns. He has offers from Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, TCU, Texas A&M, Baylor, Colorado, Duke, Florida State, Houston, and Nebraska.  

Among the offensive line prospects was Tyrese Williams of Houston (Cy-Ridge), Texas. Williams, 6-3, 285 pounds, is a center prospect that has offers from California, New Mexico, North Texas, Texas State, UTSA, Tulsa, Central Florida, and Utah.

Trace Oldner is a 6-5, 280 pound offensive guard prospect that is out of Richmond (Foster), Texas. He has offers from Indiana, McNeese State, and Stephen F. Austin. He has heard from the likes of Arkansas and Texas A&M.

Grant Norton is an offensive tackle prospect out of Camdenton, Mo. The 6-8, 255 pound Norton has offers from West Point, Bowling Green, Central Michigan, Illinois State, Toledo, Western Illinois, and Wyoming.  

Going back early in the Mike Gundy era the Cowboys recruited a pretty good offensive tackle out of Richmond (Bush), Texas named Russell Okung. Well, Friday there was a trio of prospects from that high school at the scrimmage. Toluwashe Buoye was there with both his parents. The 6-4, 321 pound offensive guard prospect is starting to draw some attention. Taku Tanyi is a 6-3, 315 pound offensive guard that was there with his dad. Another Richmond Bush prospect was there as well in defensive end and tight end prospect Jerimiah E. Green. Green is 6-4, 220 pounds and very athletic looking. Buoye, Green, and Tanyi are all 2018 prospects. 

Kris Dike is a 6-5, 283 pound offensive tackle prospect out of Van, Texas.

Looking ahead J.W. Hertzberg is a 2020 quarterback prospect that came all the way from South Carolina with his father and a teammate in Tequinton Coleman. Hertzberg is a 6-2, 170 pound sophomore to be from Southside Christian Academy in Simpsonville, S.C. 

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