Right down to the end Gundy showed his intent as on the final series of the day the offense tried to call time out, but Gundy yelled for them to play it and that he wanted to see how they responded when they were tired. That final series ended when Jason Ricks was short on a 51-yard field goal, his only miss of the day on either extra points or field goals.
There were plenty of highlights during the hour and a half the Cowboys spent scrimmaging, and they came on both sides of the ball. However, mistakes, primarily penalties and too many big pass plays allowed, caught Gundy's attention.
"We had good effort today, but way too many mistakes on both sides of the ball that disappointed me," said Gundy. "Offensively, (there were) too many penalties. Part of that is going to come with so many young guys playing, but way too many penalties as far along as we are offensively.
"Defensively, they made all the tough plays and gave up too many of the easy ones. There were way too many big plays. They did a nice job on a normal first-and-10 situation sand then gave up big, big pass plays. One disadvantage the defense has is going against this offense. It's not like going against vanilla stuff, but you can't give up 40- or 50-yard chunk plays."
The scrimmage started out with a defensive tone as defensive tackle Jeray Chatham burst through the offensive line and tackled Dantrell Savage for a five-yard loss on the first play. The defensive line has been a focal point throughout the spring because of graduation losses, lack of experience, and lack of depth.
But on the first series for the second units, defensive tackle Jonathan Lewis got deep in the backfield and held up running back Julius Crosslin. Crosslin escaped his grasp and changed directions only to run into four other defenders that finished off the tackle for lost yardage. Linebacker Alex Odiari also came up with a big hit on the same series, knocking Crosslin down at the line of scrimmage.
"For the most part I was pleased with our tackling," said Gundy. "They (defensive line) are going to have to show up and be in great condition and be tough because there is not a lot of depth there. Without looking at tape I am pleased with their effort and I thought they played low. At times last year I thought we played too high, but they seem to be playing lower to the ground."
The second team offense accounted for the first touchdown drive of the day as Zac Robinson hit Seth Newton for 16 yards on a slant route, Julius Crosslin reversed his field on another running play and this time rumbled 24 yards to the 1-yard line. The touchdown came on a roll out by Robinson as he hit backup tight end Justin Waller for a one-yard touchdown.
The first team defense continued to have things its way as nose tackle Maurice Cummings stopped running back Keith Toston for no gain. Then Bobby Reid tried to squeeze a pass outside and Donovan Woods, from his strong linebacker position, came over and tipped the ball to himself and took the interception 46-yards for a defensive touchdown.
"The quarterback did see me and still threw it," said Woods. "I was lucky enough to catch it and bobbled it around a little bit. I was glad I caught and tried to make a play after that."
"He shouldn't have thrown it," Gundy said after it was pointed out it was a nice effort and a tipped play by Woods.
"I wish I hadn't thrown it too," said Reid. "As soon as the ball left my hands I wished I had a pause button to go get the ball. I made a mistake and I'll learn from it."
After giving up the score the first team offense was wide awake and hungry. Dantrell Savage broke off a 15-yard run, Reid hit Adarius Bowman on an 11-yard out route, and then a huge block on the right side of the line opened up a hole that Savage burst through on his way to a 44-yard touchdown run. Not long after that Reid came back and set up another score by leading Bowman perfectly on a post pattern. The play covered 59 yards down to the 3-yard line with Bowman having to be dragged down after taking several hits. Reid and Gundy both agree it is good to have Bowman back from basketball.
"No question about it," said Reid. "He opens up the offense in a whole new way. Before he was here we weren't really converting on things we were supposed to convert on, and then on Wednesday when he was back we picked off right where we left off in the Alabama game."
"He knows the plays and he knows what to do," Gundy said of Bowman. "You can call it like it is, he's 220 pounds and the two guys that hit him are 180 pounds. He is unusually strong and has great balance. He just stays on his feet and gives himself opportunity to have success."
The drive finished when Reid, on the roll out, was extremely patient and waited until he spotted Anthony Parks in the very back right corner of the end zone for a seven-yard touchdown.
"That is plain and simple, the Tech game last year when I rolled out with two seconds left. Bowman and Parks were in the same place in the back of the end zone and I didn't see them," said Reid. "Coach (Larry) Fedora and I talked about it and he was just telling me you've seen the mistake and now that you've seen what happened correct it. Keep your eyes down the field and what opens up. I was in the same situation and he (Parks) did the same thing and I saw it and made the play."
Back to the give and take of a scrimmage. Zac Robinson hit Jeremy Broadway for a 41-yard gain to the 16. A few plays later Robinson tried to hit Parks on a short pass outside and boundary corner Martel Van Zant made the interception of the day diving in front of Parks and picking off the pass then stumbling four yards to the 11-yard line.
"That is what I am saying, we have so many talented players," said linebacker Jeremy Nethon. "Martel is so talented and being able to go out there and play the way he plays every day. He is consistent in what he does and just keeps getting better."
Three more touchdowns came late, all on passes, with Reid hit Parks in stride on a 26-yard touchdown, third quarterback Alex Cate threw the longest scoring pass of the day hitting Bowman on a post for a 60-yard score, and Cate finished it off with a 21-yard fade route to Artrell Woods for a touchdown.
As Gundy said, there were too many big plays allowed, but the defense is still feeling it's way with a new system.
"About 75 percent of it (was the defense learning a new system)," said Gundy. "They are learning new coverages. The scrimmage was suitable for me because we were able to get in 90 plays and not get anybody hurt. I go back to the penalties and the big plays. We didn't have too many penalties on offense last season and we had too many today."
The Cowboys now go on spring break with the next practice on Monday, March 26. The squad will have nine practices left, including the April 14 Orange-White spring game.
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