With all but three practices and with two scrimmages in the book for spring football of 2017 the Cowboys have shown balance in the practices with offense and defense and we have our annual guess as to how Mike Gundy and his staff will split the team up for Saturday's spring game.
Before the scrimmage on Friday, the second scrimmage of the spring for head coach Mike Gundy and the Cowboys, I was talking to former players Jerry Winchester and Mel Campbell along with several others and I was bragging about different facets of the team that had stood out and were improving. After the scrimmage the week before I was really pushing some of the offensive players. That was my mistake! This is spring and when one side of the ball or the other has a really good practice or a really good scrimmage then the next time out under similar circumstances and provided there is a semblance of balance within the team then you had better expect a turnaround. That was the case from scrimmage one on the last day of March and scrimmage number two on the seventh day of April, as different as two months on the calendar.
A little after the scrimmage started I went back over to check in with the group and apologize for a preview that missed the mark. Chalk it up to spring.
The long touchdowns to Tyron Johnson and the offensive firepower on display in the first scrimmage was not as plentiful the next week. The 120 plays, longest scrimmage of the spring saw more defense on display with five sacks and four turnovers. There was some recovery late and some good offensive plays mixed in, but the second scrimmage was defensive oriented.
That's okay. Heck, the head coach said earlier in the week that he privately roots inside for the defense every practice and scrimmage, probably because he has the confidence that against anybody else the offense will thrive.
"I would prefer to see the defense win every day, but my message to the guys in the locker room after practice is to get over it," Gundy said of hos he handles it with the coaches that take everyday very personal. It is their job and everybody is competitive. "That's just the way it is in the spring. The defense kind of had their way last Friday. On Monday the offense had their way. ... It's just spring ball. Sometimes, coaches will go with ones vs. twos instead of ones vs. ones so that they can feel better about it. I would prefer good vs. good so they get good quality work and coaches have to get over it after practice."
Defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer was similar as he sees different drills favoring different sides. Pass pro is more of a defensive drill, inside drill should also favor the defense in his opinion, but pass skull, seven-on-seven is more of an offensive favorite. Team period should be balanced.
Spencer lamented the first scrimmage as a day the defense did not come to play.
"As a staff we let them know we were disappointed," he said.
Friday's scrimmage was much better as the defense came out strong early and had a lot of big plays in pass rush, forcing turnovers, both fumbles and interceptions. There was even a return for a touchdown.
The rubber match will be in the spring game on Saturday. Your chance to eyeball and see what the Cowboys look like. I honestly feel that this team has a chance to be very special. It takes more work, it takes a lot of caring and strong attitude, but I think this team has that along with plenty of talent. Now, it won't be strictly ones versus ones or twos versus twos. Mike Gundy knows that you as fans like to see it split up, so he and the staff will do that.
Each spring we always try to guess, so here goes with our Orange vs. White Spring Game Roster Guess-a-thon.
QB Mason Rudolph Keondre Wudtee
Taylor Cornelius John Kolar
Jelani Woods Josh Green
RB L.D. Brown Jeff Carr Justice Hill is out for the spring
Ja'Ron Wilson Jakeem Johnson
CW Keenen Brown Britton Abbott
Dawson Bassett Dayton Metcalf
Luke Hupp Logan Carter
WR James Washington Tyron Johnson Dillon Stoner is out for spring
Chris Lacy Marcell Ateman
Jalen McCleskey Landon Wolf
Austin Parker Tyrell Alexander
Cole McKnight Obi Obialo
Mitchell Perkinson Korie Frausto
OL Brad Lundblade - OC Johnny Wilson - OC
Larry Williams - RG Lemaefe Galea'i - RG
Deionte Noel - LG Marcus Keyes - LG
Zach Crabtree - RT Shane Richards - RT
Arlington Hambright - LT Dylan Galloway - LT
Matt Kegel Teven Jenkins
Ry Schneider Walker Reed
Brett Wilson Jacob Clark
DE Jarrell Owens Jordan Brailford Vili Leveni is out for spring
Tralund Webber Cole Walterscheid
DT Darrion Daniels Trey Carter
Ben Hughes DeQuinton Osborne
Taaj Bakari Cameron Murray
LB Patrick Macon Chad Whitener
Devin Harper Kevin Henry
Justin Phillips Gyasi Akem
Amen Ogbongbemiga Kenneth Edison-McGruder - star
Kirk Tucker -star Calvin Bundage - star
Brendan Vaughn - star Reshawn Parker
Zach Smith Jake Dyer
CB Darius Curry Rodarius Williams
Madre Harper A.J. Green
Bryce Balous Bryce Brown
Malik Kearse Lamarcus Morton
Safeties Tre Flowers Ramon Richards
Jerel Morrow Za'Carrius Green
Chance Cook Phillip Redwine-Bryant
Specialists Matt Hockett Matt Ammendola
Kevin Mahon Zach Sinor
Sam Walkingstick Tanner Morgan