Saturday's Scrimmage: Running Backs Shine

STILLWATER - Oklahoma State conducted its first major scrimmage and second full-squad scrimmage of the spring at Boone Pickens Stadium on Saturday in front of an enthusiastic crowd and under blue skies and plenty of sunshine.

There were highlights on both sides of the ball including a 43-yard fumble return for a touchdown by Daniel McLemore. The senior-to-be cornerback scooped up the ball and took off needing only to avoid quarterback Donovan Woods as he crossed the field from north to south on his way to the end zone.

"I was very pleased with the defense early in the scrimmage," head coach Mike Gundy said. "I thought they did a good job of disguising coverages and fronts and had them confused offensively."

The offense struggled at times with turnovers and moving the ball. It was not until the halfway point that quarterback Al Peña finally put the ball in the end zone on a one-yard keeper. There were big plays, however. Peña hit Julius Crosslin for 44 yards on a screen pass, and D'Juan Woods for 41 yards on a post pattern.

"We turned the ball over way too many times to be successful," Gundy said. "The offense did a better job in the latter part of the scrimmage, or they were better conditioned. The defense did not follow up and make tackles late in the scrimmage. Offensively, we were blocking them and running the ball late, which is discouraging to me, because I like to see the defense finish."

It was a day for the running backs as converted fullback to tailback Julius Crosslin finished with 73 yards on 12 carries and also had 74 yards receiving including a screen pass he caught from Donovan Woods and took to the end zone on an impressive play. One of the plays that aptly described what Gundy was disturbed about with the defense featured Crosslin off left tackle and as he broke into the secondary he bounced off and eventually was dragging defenders down the field.

"I saw the same thing you did. He made plays," said Gundy of Crosslin's performance in the scrimmage. "I put him in there late over and over, because I want him to be able to make plays when he's tired. Then he turned the ball over. That's what happens to young backs, they get tired, they don't think, and they turn it over. He has to get over that, but I think he made up some ground. He has great balance. He's a 250-pounder, who's strong, and he'll probably run a 4.6. He fits our system."

Mike Hamilton also had a good day toting the football as he gained 63 yards on 14 carries, including a long gain -- again late in the scrimmage -- for 29 yards. Hamilton also scored three times.

"They're promising for us," said Gundy of the young running backs. "It's encouraging to see them get up in there with their pads down and make plays. I was very concerned before spring, because of the health of Seymore (Shaw) and with (Vernand) Morency coming out early. We were essentially left with guys who have never played at this level. But I'm encouraged now with where those guys are at this point."

Of course, much attention is being given to the quarterback competition this spring and that continued as well on Saturday, much like it has in the previous 11 practices. Donovan Woods is staying in front of the top challenger Bobby Reid.

Woods led the quarterbacks by completing 9 of his 15 pass attempts for 125 yards. His last completions were scoring strikes of 21 and 30 yards when the offense started in the red zone. Robert Reid was 5-for-8 for 39 yards.

"Off-hand, it looked like Donovan made fewer mistakes," said Gundy. "I'll have to watch the tape and see what the defense is doing and know what the call is."

Gundy went on to address the quarterback standings with one week to go in the spring.

"It's hard for me to say right now," said the first-year head coach. "And I'm probably more critical of those guys than anybody. My first thought would be, no. No one specific. But I want to see us complete 60 percent of our passes. I'm encouraged by them, but they have a ways to go, and those guys have the ability to make plays with their legs.

"They're at a disadvantage today, because I'm blowing the whistle early. At one point, I told them they need to tell me when they're running that little shovel screen, because it looks like they're going to kill the quarterback and they're actually shoveling it. I didn't even know we had that play, to be honest with you."

There were several players missing from Saturday's scrimmage, most of those have sat out the entire spring as they rehab injuries including running back Seymore Shaw, wide receiver Chijuan Mack, tight end Tremayne Standberry, and defensive ends Nathan Peterson, Marque Fountain, Darnell Smith and William Bell. Also out Saturday was defensive end Victor DeGrate with a broken finger and wide receiver Tevin Williams left the scrimmage with a mild ankle sprain.

The Cowboys have one more week left of spring practice -- four practices -- beginning on Monday at 4:10 p.m. at Boone Pickens Stadium. The week will conclude with the second scrimmage next Saturday at 11:45 a.m.

Scrimmage Statistics
Name C-A-I Yds TD Lg

Donovan Woods 9-15-0 125 2 30
Al Peña 4-13-0 95 0 44
Robert Reid 5-8-0 39 1 24
Name Rec-Yds TD Lg

D'Juan Woods 4-68 1 21
Tommy Deveraux 4-54 0 32
Brandon Pettigrew 3-37 1 24
Mike Hamilton 3-17 0 16
Julius Crosslin 2-74 1 44
Name Car-Yds TD Lg

Julius Crosslin 12-73 0 28
Mike Hamilton 14-63 3 29
Greg Gold 10-35 0 8
( contributed to this report)

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