Cowboy Receivers Step Up in Spring Scrimmage

STILLWATER – Head coach Mike Gundy got what he wanted on this sunsplashed Saturday as his Oklahoma State football team performed in game type conditions with a crowd of close to 6,000 on hand including the OSU Spirit Band. The Jumbotron was on and operational. The fans were enthusiastic and a couple of wide receivers that had been mostly inconsistent through the spring showed they were gamers with the Boone Pickens Stadium lights turned on.

The Cowboys went through a regular style scrimmage, special teams situations and then a series of scripted situational scrimmages providing plenty of highlights on both sides of the ball. However, when you are implementing a new spread, no-huddle offense nothing will delight a coach more than seeing wide receivers catch the ball and make plays. This was by far the finest day of the spring for the passing offense as the three quarterbacks -- Donovan Woods, Bobby Reid and Al Pena -- combined for 386 yards through the air. One of the biggest reasons for the improvement in passing came because sophomore speedster Tommy Devereaux and senior sizeable target Kenny Williams caught the ball and made plays.

Those two weren't the only receivers to have big days but it was their production, which hasn't always been there in practice, that made the difference. Devereaux was first up as returning starter Donovan Woods guided the first team offense on a couple of series. The offense moved the ball into defensive territory both times only to stall. The first time on downs and the second on a fumble following a pass from Woods to Luke Frazier. In those two series, Devereaux, who is coming off a redshirt year with just four career receptions, caught four passes for 31 yards.

"I saw him make a couple of good catches and that's two more than he's made in his career," said Gundy sharply. "He's coming along but I also saw him drop a couple of passes. My point to him at that time was he can't afford to do that. Next year we will throw to him on third-and-seven and he has to make the catch. It's time for him to step up. I'd say he is halfway there. He needs to have a great summer and become mentally tough."

Offensive coordiantor Larry Fedora said, "I would have liked for him to make those plays from day one, but he was having to think so much that he can't play. Now he's starting to think I know this play, I know this play, and he makes plays. Hopefully those are glimpses of what we'll see in the fall."

The next series Williams stepped into the limelight. Pena quarterbacked the third series, which were all starting at the 30-yard line. After a Calvin Roberts run and a completion from Pena to tight end Paschal Smith for a first down, Pena caught the snap in the shotgun and lofted a pass down the right sideline for Williams. The 6-5 Dallas South Oak Cliff product made the grab and then executed a nice move to trip up defender Chase Pulliam and he tight roped the sideline to complete the 55-yard touchdown pass. Williams has three career receptions at Oklahoma State and none last season.

Devereaux was back at it a few series later working with Bobby Reid, the other Cowboys quarterback contending for the position heading into next season. Reid had a rough start being sacked twice (Grant Jones and Ryan McBean) on his first series. His second series he was intercepted by Grant Jones, who returned it 32 yards before fumbling it and seeing offensive guard David Koenig recover for the offense. The next series Reid completed four straight passes including three to Devereaux. The first was a 22-yard strike across the middle where Devereaux took a solid hit and held onto the ball. He also caught a nine-yard pass and a wide receiver screen the defense snuffed out for a five-yard loss.

"Once you know the plays you get comfortable and that's the way I felt out there today," said Devereaux. "In the game that's when you have to step up. Coach Gundy told me to relax out there and just focus on the ball and look it in, don't worry about the hit, read the defense, read the coverages and just focus and relax."

Overall, it was a very good afternoon for the wide receivers as Devereaux finished with seven receptions for 86 yards. Veteran standout D'Juan Woods also caught seven passes for 65 yards, including a touchdown drive igniter. Woods caught the pass on a post route on the right side from his brother Donovan for a 21-yard gain to the defensive 44-yard line. On the next play the quarterback Woods could not find an open receiver and tucked the ball. He scrambled to the right and avoided the pass rush and then did a serpentine through the rest of the defense for 44 yards and a touchdown. All a defender had to do to stop him was touch him. Linebacker Paul Duren thought he did, but nobody else in a white jersey got close.

"I was just trying to make a play," said Woods. "I'm sure there were some guys out there that thought they touched me. The ref didn't blow the whistle and he's the guy that makes the call."

Woods went from triumph to disaster in one play. Starting another drive on first down, Woods looked to his right and either didn't see defensive end Jerry Don Bray or thought he was dressed in orange. Woods pass hit the 6-5, 265-pounder in the chest. He caught it and went untouched 34 yards for the touchdown. It was shortly after that defensive score that the coaching staff went to working on scrimmaging certain situations -- third down and short, third down and long, second down and long. The offense (running backs) would finish with 165 yards rushing on 34 carries, and were led by Mike Hamilton, who had 12 carries for 83 yards. Hamilton would later score during some goal line scrimmage work. The backs on the whole averaged 4.9 yards per carry.

One of the highlights of the situational scrimmage work came on the two-minute drill as Reid guided the offense on one his best drives of the spring covering 80 yards in nine plays. Reid started the drive with a 20-yard strike to the right to tight end Brandon Pettigrew. He came back with an 18-yard completion to Devereaux. Mike Hamilton caught a short swing pass from Reid and advanced it 25 yards to the 17-yard line. One play later Reid finished the successful drive with 24 seconds left on the scoreboard clock as he found Paschal Smith in the back of the middle of the end zone. Smith went up to pull down the ball in traffic making a nice catch for the score. It was a very nice executed drive by the highly touted redshirt freshman from Galena Park North Shore.

"I feel I played pretty well," said Reid. "I still think I could have made better reads or a better call at certain times. Day one everything was kind of crazy, coaches hollering and everything, and today coaches gave the quarterbacks the power to run the show and everything went smoothly."

The other highlight came with work on an overtime period. On the first play at the 25 going in, Donovan Woods hit Kenny Williams in stride going down the hash mark and Williams ran the ball in for the score. Reid quarterbacked the offense as they tried to even the score in the overtime, but the defense had their moment sacking Reid twice and forcing two imcompletions.

All in all it was a good day to wrap up spring football. Both sides enjoyed some success. The mistakes made can be corrected. The attitude is good. Two receivers that needed to became wide awake in the Cowboys' new offense.

"I thought this was our most productive day on offense this spring," said Gundy.

The Cowboy squad will immediately get back to a regular workout schedule with strength and conditioning coach Rob Glass. The coaches will review the spring and then hit the road for the recruiting evaluation period. The summer awaits and it won't be long before August and preseason camp will be here preparing for the season opener against Montana State at Boone Pickens Stadium on Sept. 3.

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