Spring Football: Weather, Defense Win Friday

STILLWATER – On a day that looked perfect for offense – a cold front blew in bringing a brisk wind, cold rain, and an 18-degree temperature drop right before the Oklahoma State Cowboys took the field for the second major scrimmage of the spring. Mother Nature's change in conditions kept a lot of the crowd away and put an early stifle on the offense in the 104-play scrimmage on Friday.

Most of the scrimmage was unscripted as they just put the ball down and played until the drive ended with a fourth down, turnover or scoring play. The scrimmage did wrap up with a third-and-short yardage scrimmage. Early on it was mostly defense as the offense scored just once in the first 12 drives of the scrimmage.

"We had a good workout today," said head coach Mike Gundy. "Offensively, we started a little slow and showed some immaturity there by allowing the conditions to effect them early. Once they got going, (after) about 30 plays, it looked like they did a good job of taking care of the ball. It was good to come out and practice today in the wind and the rain. Part of our growing as a football team is maturing and getting tougher and working in the wind and rain is good for us. It was a good day in practice. We kept most of our guys healthy. We got a few guys banged up so we had to shorten the scrimmage a few plays."

As expected, Bobby Reid received most of the reps at quarterback with a total of 51 snaps. On his second drive of two to start the scrimmage, Reid moved the offense 64 yards with completions of 40 yards to tight end Brandon Pettigrew over the middle and 20 yards to tight end Paschal Smith in the left flat. Running back Mike Hamilton picked up 10 yards for a third first down to put the ball inside the 10. After Marque Fountain sacked Reid for an eight-yard loss, the other defensive end Nathan Peterson jumped a screen pass and picked off Reid returning it 49 yards before Reid tagged Peterson down.

"I just noticed that Corey (Hilliard) released on the screen type block and he didn't put any effort into blocking me," said Peterson in describing the play. "I read the running back flaring out and just tried to get some support out there and luckily got my hands on the ball. They blew the whistle, but I wanted to see if I could fight them off another 30 yards or so."

The defense came right back with another highlight on the first of 29 snaps for redshirt freshman quarterback Zac Robinson, but Robinson had nothing to do with it. The Cowboys ran a reverse that was fumbled by wide receiver Tommy Devereaux and sophomore linebacker Alex Odiari recovered the slick ball and returned it a short distance. After a series that ended in three downs, Robinson faked a zone read and was so effective in his ball handling that he faked out the entire defense and ran 74 yards down the left side of the field for a touchdown.

"He was reading the play and kept it," Gundy said of the Robinson run. "He can run. We've talked about it before, he only played quarterback one year in high school and before that played wide receiver so he can run. He may be a 4.6 guy."

A total of nine sacks gave the offense plenty of trouble in continuing drives. There were also two other turnovers as junior safety Donovan Woods made a nice play off a deflection to pick off Robinson. Woods was able to return the interception 35 yards before being corralled. Later in the scrimmage redshirt freshman defensive end T.J. Minor recovered an Al Pena fumble.

As for the sacks, Reid was caught six times as he sometimes hung in there too long trying to complete the play. Robinson was sacked twice and Cate was sacked once in his nine plays in the scrimmage. Odiari, Fountain and linebacker Rodrick Johnson each had two sacks, with safety Andre Sexton, cornerback Jacob Lacey and defensive end Victor DeGrate each collecting one sack. The leading tackler, according to our figures, was defensive tackle Ryan McBean, who was in on eight stops. That's a high number for an interior defensive lineman, but McBean said he was plenty fired up for the scrimmage.

"It felt good today with the rain coming down," said McBean. "It wasn't as hot as it was the other day. I just wanted to go out there and make plays and do better than I did last week."

The offense struck again just before a break in the middle of the scrimmage to work on punt returns. Running back Calvin Roberts took a handoff, faked a reverse action and cut through a huge hole on the right side to go 49 yards for the touchdown. Reid and the first offense needed just five plays to cover 65 yards immediately after the break. The drive started with a 54-yard pass, catch, and run from Reid to the spectacular Adarius Bowman. Three plays later Reid hit a wide open Brandon Pettigrew for a three-yard touchdown. Reid finished the scrimmage as the leading passer, completing 16 of 25 passes for 245 yards with one interception and the one touchdown to Pettigrew.

"Brandon, all the tight ends, we've been trying to work the tight ends all spring and they've been coming through for us," Reid said of the success throwing to the tight ends. "We are going to keep on getting it to them because they will keep on producing."

Pettigrew had his best day of the spring with six catches for 96 yards, but Bowman was the leading receiver with six receptions for 99 yards. Bowman, teaming with D'Juan Woods, who had four receptions for 53 yards, makes quite a difference in the offense.

"I'm just out there trying to make plays," said Bowman, who transferred from North Carolina. "There is no comparison to (North Carolina), it's two different styles of offense, and I like this one. It is faster paced, more passing, and gets the defense tired. I like this one a lot better."

"He (Bowman) catches the ball, makes people miss or runs them over," Reid said of Bowman. "It's great to have him."

"He brings another dimension," said offensive coordinator Larry Fedora. "He did those things we need him to do today and he did them all day."

Reid led the first offense on one more scoring drive, covering 65 yards. The primarily pass-driven trip included completions of 12 yards to Pettigrew, 12 yards to Smith, 10 yards to Bowman, and a 14-yarder to Pettigrew before Reid scored on a one-yard sneak.

Reid and Robinson each quarterbacked drives that ended in Jason Ricks field goals. Ricks connected from 35 and 39 yards - both in to a stiff breeze. He also had a 44-yard attempt blocked by McBean.

The last touchdown drive was a red zone drive engineered by Al Pena. Backup running back DeAaron Martin broke off a 14-yard run, Pena hit Jeremy Broadway for a nine-yard gain to the 1-yard line and Pena took it in from there. With the Cowboys being careful with Mike Hamilton and some injuries to Julius Crosslin and Calvin Roberts, Martin wound up being the leading rusher on the day with 17 carries for 84 yards. His longest carry came on the final play of the scrimmage as the offensive line opened up a big hole during the third-and-three situational scrimmage and Martin burst through and weaved his way for 25 yards.

"Julius (Crosslin) had a bruised knee and they x-rayed him and he's fine, and Calvin (Roberts) had his wrist that he's hurt before and we didn't want to put him back in and he's fine," explained Gundy. "He's (Martin) a high school wrestler and that's what interested me at first, and has done a really nice job of learning our offense, and he got some work with the twos and when Julius got hurt we put him in with the ones and let him run around a little bit."

There was good and bad on both sides of the ball Friday. Reid is still playing the best of the quarterbacks, and perhaps learned some lessons Friday playing in cooler, wet weather. Gundy called it a good day and for progress he's probably right, but the Cowboys also showed they still have plenty of improving to do.

GoPokes Top Stories