Today’s two-and-a-half-hour practice was the 14th practice of the spring, but also the last time that the Oklahoma State football team would all practice together this spring.
The cornerback position was given more attention today by the media with the addition of graduate transfer Adrian Baker set to join the squad in the next few months. Baker will bring some great experience to the position, as well as talent. But solid play, and talent isn’t something that the young corners lack.
"We're just trying to analyze them as a whole.” said Coach Spencer, “A couple of them will have a good day, and then a bad day. They're showing some sparks and then they will give up some things. It's been an up-and-down spring for some of those guys. They're a lot better now than they were when we started all of this. It helps to be able to go up against our group of wide receivers every day. It makes us all better.".
The receivers were a group that put in a lot of solid work today, as they went toe-to-toe in some pretty physical blocking and route running drills. A guy that’s been garnering a lot of attention from Coach Dunn, is Tyron Johnson. A redshirt sophomore out of New Orleans, Johnson sat out last year, but has been putting in some solid work all throughout the offseason as well as the spring and is set to have a solid season.
Another receiver that’s set to have a solid season, is senior Marcell Ateman who sat out all of last season as well, but with a foot injury.
One of the main focal points of the spring has been trying to decipher which quarterback has made the most progress over the others, and will be Rudolph’s backup to start the season. Taylor Cornelius has made tremendous strides throughout the spring and offseason to put himself in great position. So has Keondre Wudtee. The redshirt freshman out of Bossier City, Louisiana has made great progress in his throwing mechanics and his ability to control his passes in deep pass situations.
"It's critical to get a backup named at the quarterback spot so that we can maximize the reps.” stated offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich, “When you have to share reps and you're unsure of who that backup is, you're not giving yourself a fair chance at getting that No. 2 guy prepared. The reps are limited as it is and to spread them between No. 2 and No. 3 is not in the best interest of getting quality play from that position. There's really no timetable for when that decision has to be made though, but we would like to do it sooner rather than later."
And head coach Mike Gundy agrees. "We've cut Mason (Rudolph)'s reps back considerably and added more to (Keondre) Wudtee's.” said Gundy, “We have a good idea of what we have with Taylor (Cornelius). We're thrilled that he's here. Wudtee hasn't had as much work, so we've given more to Wudtee and Kolar. The issue we have is total number of reps two weeks out from our first game, because from that point you're more in just a training session. Maybe the next question would be if anybody has emerged as the No. 2 guy. Not right now. We don't feel like we can make that (decision). I was hoping by the end of spring ball we could, but we feel like they're doing really well. They bring a little something different to the table and we aren't ready to do that. We certainly have to do that halfway through fall camp because there just aren't enough reps to go around."
And as rough and as physical as practice was, the air seemed light and exciting. Everyone getting ready for the spring game this coming Saturday. There’s been a lot of talk about the spring game the past few weeks, but with the date bearing down on us, the main focus of much of the media availability was to get a read on how the guys and coaches felt.
“I think it’ll be fun.” said senior quarterback Mason Rudolph, “My last spring game, kind of hang out and enjoy it, enjoy it with these guys and take it all in. We’re excited for Saturday. We’re hoping fans will come out and have a good time with us. And shoot, it’s gone by fast. This spring has, and just looking forward to putting the exclamation point on it Saturday.”.
But when it comes to the coaches, sure they want it to be fun, but that may be one of the last things they’re thinking about. “Just clean play man. We don’t want any penalties, we don’t want any negative plays.” offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich said before practice, “Assignment sound. Keep moving the football. No errors from a mental standpoint. That’s the main thing on Saturday. Gotta have some fun, gotta make some big plays all those sorts of things. But we just can’t press. I mean it’s the spring game. It’s another practice, another time to evaluate and just see good fundamental football.”.
One of the more exciting topics leading up to the spring game has been the roster. With how good the roster looks as a whole, you can’t help but feel like you’re going to see some fun football this Saturday. You’re only going to see the main guys play in a few series towards the beginning of the day, but that gives you ample opportunity to see the young up and coming stars on this Cowboy team.
"Really on both sides, we've limited our game plan because when you split teams up, you're going to be fairly youthful on both teams.” said Coach Gundy, “We want a good team game, so we're going to be vanilla on defense and offense. That way we don't have as many guys out there thinking as playing. What I had shared with them was that we want them to be able to play hard and have fun, we want to give the fans a good show. Last year, we were at 90 plays. I don't know that we have the man power this year, since we have a few guys sitting out, to get that many, but I would certainly like to have 70 plays for the fans. That way they can get a feel for some of the new guys we have. Rudolph will only go a couple of series and we'll get a couple of other quarterbacks in there, and the same at other positions. In all three phases, we want it to be a clean game where the fans can see some of the newer players and get excited about the upcoming season."
Recruiting Notes from Spring Practice