What To Take From The Orange-White Game

First, take away the competitive attitude and the excitement of the game. This game was a gift from Mike Gundy, the coaching staff, and the Cowboy players to you the fans. The overall value of staging a game like this doesn't have nearly as much value to preparing for next season as a major scrimmage would have. That is why so many schools simply scrimmage and call it a spring game.

This was a spring game, but to do so the coaches gave up control of who played with each other on the offensive and defensive lines. I mention those because they are critical to continuity.

Take away the opportunity to see two young defensive players show they are coming around. Orie Lemon was sensational with seven tackles and a sack. He also intercepted a Bobby Reid pass early in the game. The former quarterback at Houston Yates, who turned fullback last August and finally moved to linebacker , gives the Cowboys even more depth at the position. But so does Justin Gent. Gent, who has improved every day of the spring, had six tackles and hid well enough to pick off a Zac Robinson pass on his way 13 yards into the end zone for the game's only defensive touchdown.

Take away that Donovan Woods appears to have finally found his best home as a linebacker. The former quarterback and safety did get to re-live old days when he threw a quarterback throwback to Alex Cate in the fourth quarter helping to set up a go-ahead score by the Orange. But Woods's five unassisted tackles were proof, along with his play the rest of the spring, that he is best at home at strongside linebacker.

Take away good special teams play. Despite being split up, all field goals (four in all) and all PATs were good. The two punters combined for a 42-yard average and the returns were OK, although we all can take away that life will always be interesting with Perrish Cox returning punts. He's the Will Rogers of punt returners -- he never met a punt he didn't want to return.

You can obviously take away the fact that Artrell Woods is rapidly emerging as a major play-making threat in the offense to add to Bobby Reid and Zac Robinson at quarterback, Dantrell Savage, Keith Toston, and Julius Crosslin at running back, Adarius Bowman at wide receiver, and Brandon Pettigrew at tight end.

Woods is a native Texan who could easily fit in well in Oklahoma's first family of wide receivers that live in the Millwood district of Oklahoma City. The difference between Artrell Woods, and Rashaun and D'Juan, is that Artrell is faster. He has true world-class sprinter's speed and between Artrell and his speed, Bowman and his brawn, and Pettigrew opposing defenses are going to be in trouble trying to cover all three weapons without leaving huge running lanes.

Woods was spectacular in catching the gimmick play from Seth Newton and the touchdown that set up the win, but it was the game winning two-point conversion that was most impressive. The officials missed a huge chance to throw their flags as cornerback Calvin Mickens fearing (rightfully so) that he was about to be the goat and give up the game-winning duece held on to Woods like his life depended on it. Instead of screaming and trying to draw the flag, Woods fought and almost used a lineman's swim move to get away from Mickens and catch the pass zipped from the patient Zac Robinson.

"He kind of held me on the play," said Woods. "I have to give a lot of credit to the offensive line for holding off the defensive line and giving me time to get free and for Zac to throw the ball."

Hey, one good hold deserves another and considering how long Zac had, there may have been a good hold or two.

Before you take away thoughts of a quarterback controversy -- as backup Zac Robinson (20-13-1 for 149 yards and two touchdowns) did out-perform starter Bobby Reid (24-11-1 for 127 yards) -- you have to factor in this. Robinson had the two best friends that a quarterback can have in starting center David Washington and Dantrell Savage. The center made a difference as Reid mishandled three snaps. They weren't all the fault of Andrew Lewis, the backup center and probably a starting guard in the fall. The first one for the 27-yard loss could be blamed on Lewis, but the others could go back to Reid, or maybe a combination of the two. Robinson and Washington were smooth throughout the ball game.

Dave Hunziker, my broadcast partner on the Cowboy Radio Network, is a brilliant man when it comes to statistics. Nothing gets by Dave in that area and he brought good ammo for the spring game. In Larry Fedora's spread offense there are lots of weapons and the ball is in the air, short, long, and medium plenty. However, OSU had a higher percentage of running plays last season than any other offense in the Big 12. Les Miles is gone and the spread has replaced the power-I, but the run is still the trigger mechanism in the Oklahoma State offense and Savage is as good as it gets in triggering this offense. Savage had just eight carries but gained 72 yards for a 9.0-yards per carry average. Robinson and Julius Crosslin pitched in too.

First scoring drive: Robinson 40-yard run, 3-0 White
Second scoring drive: Savage 22-yard run, 6-0 White
Third scoring drive: Crosslin 29-yard run, 13-0 White
Fourth scoring drive: 1-play drive, flea flicker Newton to Woods, 20-20
Fifth scoring drive: Robinson 9-yard run, 28-27 White
Sixth scoring drive: 1-play drive, Robinson to Broadway, 35-27 White

The White had just one rushing touchdown -- a Crosslin one-yard run for their first touchdown, which came in the second quarter -- but the threat posed by Savage and the entire running game set the Orange up when they were beaten through the air.

I know there was initial excitement when it was announced that Reid and Bowman were on the Orange team together. And, I know that Woods and Robinson were heroes with their late game heroics, but just as he was in the Independence Bowl win over Alabama, Dantrell Savage is the MVP. Having Savage on your side in this one went a long way toward securing locker room bragging rights. Savage will be a primary reason that this team will be better next season. Put Savage on the Orange, with Reid, and I will guarantee you Reid's numbers would have been better and the Orange likely would have won.

Yes, in a spread offense, with all kinds of weapons in the passing game, it is still the running game and a talented tailback that makes it all go.

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