Tim Beckman: Could Redshirts Help?

Names like Richetti Jones, Jamie Blatnick, Marcus Richardson, Adrian Moore, Jared Glover and others are talented freshmen sitting out the season as redshirts. They spent most of their time playing on the scout team against the first-team offense each week, while getting extra days and extra attention in the weight room with Rob Glass and his strength and conditioning staff.

However, on Saturday when fans see the Cowboys short on depth on the defensive side, and giving up an average of 456.4 yards and 28.8 points per game, they wonder why aren't those pups out there helping the cause.

The Cowboys staff under Vance Bedford the past couple of seasons played plenty of freshmen on the field, like Patrick Lavine, Justin Gent, Orie Lemon and Derek Burton. Why are the Cowboys saving these possible contributors in a time of need?

"There is a future with those young men and that future is next season when we open up," said Beckman of the freshmen that are redshirting. "I see and hear more about them than I really get to see them because I am down with the first-team defense."

Beckman sees more than you think and so do his defensive assistants. The defense isn't the only practice tape they watch and grade.

"Yes, we grade them," Beckman said of the scout team defense. "They are maturing into college football. They are learning how this game works. They are still 18 or 19 years old. If you'd have asked me several weeks ago I'd tell you we made the decision that it wasn't in their best interest (to play.)"

It's easy to understand the extra year of eligibility and what that means, but this defense has been threadbare depth-wise a lot this season. There couldn't be that much difference in a redshirt freshman playing the next season over a sophomore that got some experience. You'd think it would be better to get those young players in the game and get some experience.

"I really don't think so and I'm going to use an example in Derek Burton," explained Beckman. "Derek Burton, a year in the fall to me, and this is my opinion, if he were in the weight room an extra year instead of having to play 22 or whatever the number of snaps he played last year would have probably been in his benefit rather than those 22 plays he played last season.

"Of course, you want them to get the experience to play and to travel with the team, but the bottom line is you want what will give them the best benefit. We decided that those guys would benefit more from the extra days in the weight room over playing a couple of plays."

The redshirts lift four days a week, two more than the varsity players do, so that is double the lifting and while the players on the field are just trying to maintain, the redshirts are working on building more strength. They get plenty of film study and will get extra attention during bowl practices if the Cowboys take care of business and qualify.

Along those lines, Beckman says Baylor did a little reinvention on Saturday as they unleashed a running game that accounted for 170 yards, easily a season high, and the Bears had 450 yards of total offense. That was their third best total of the season. Former Edmond Santa Fe running back Brandon Whitaker and quarterback Blake Syzmanski were the stars.

"They did a great job against Oklahoma and came out with a great game plan. Give credit to the Baylor coaching staff," said Beckman. "They came out and decided that they needed to run the football first and did somethings that we hadn't seen prior on the film before that. They moved the football very well against a very good defense."

Now the challenged Cowboys need to see if they can't come up with their best effort of the season on defense in Waco Saturday. The good news is linebacker Jeremy Nethon is expected back.

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