Defense Shines In Scrimmage

It was close to 4 p.m. and Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy was giving his players the warning and caution speech about having a good time during spring break, but being smart and staying out of trouble and out of harm's way. As Gundy was talking to his team a fan casually said, "I'll bet this scrimmage will help (Tim) Beckman have a better spring break."

The Cowboys finished their first six of the allotted 15 spring practices with a 49-play "thud" scrimmage. While the term "thud" implies full speed without tackling, there was some tackling and there was definitely some defense.

The total take for the offense was 171 yards, which came out to 3.5 yards per play. Beckman won't vacation in the South of France over the results but the defensive coordinator said it was a start.

"You know how I feel, I'm a perfectionist," said Beckman laughing about a fan suggesting the scrimmage would make his spring break better. "There are things up in the press box that were glaring to me especially on the run plays. Other than that I thought we played hard. We told them they were going to be graded on effort first and I saw that from upstairs. There is always time for improvement."

undy served as the referee with no officiating crew for this scrimmage, so he wasn't as in tuned to the results and each play as he will be after reviewing it and breaking it down on video, but he also liked what he saw from the defense.

"I was talking to Fedora (former OSU assistant Larry Fedora) down there and he said you are going to have to get used to that (defense winning scrimmages)," said Gundy. "I would prefer the defense win every scrimmage and the offense will be fine and make their plays. I was excited about their (defense) enthusiasm and the way they ran to the ball and made plays."

The defense took charge on the first play as quarterback Zac Robinson tried to go long to sophomore wide receiver Dez Bryant but cornerback Jacob Lacey, who is having a good spring so far, was all over Bryant in coverage and tipped the ball away.

The offense then mixed up a solid running game with Robinson and sophomore running back Kendall Hunter with a pair of good pass plays to Damian Davis (22 yards) and Beau Johnson (15 yards) out of the backfield to cover 61 yards in eight plays. The drive died when defensive end Ugo Chinasa stopped Robinson on a bootleg for a one-yard gain and short of the first down.

"The defense took control early and then nobody on the offense stepped up and made a play," said Gundy. "Since it is that time of the year it is kind of like hoops. You can step up and hit a three and change the tempo of the scrimmage. The defense took control and just went the rest of the way and the offense never turned the tide."

Offensively, Robinson (7 carries for 24 yards) and Hunter (4 carries for 23 yards) were the leading rushers. Damian Davis was the leading receiver with two catches for 46 yards. Junior college newcomer running back Beau Johnson did well catching the ball with three catches for 20 yards.

The race for the back up quarterback job is still fairly close with Alex Cate still enjoying the advantage of knowing the offense better. Both quarterbacks had their good plays and both threw an interception.

"(Brandon) Weeden's head is spinning right now and Cate has a pretty good grasp of it," said Gundy. "Scrimmages are really good for them because it is the first time out there that it is really moving fast for them."

Weeden telegraphed his first pass of the scrimmage and newcomer cornerback Markelle Martin, out of Wichita Falls (Rider), Texas, jumped the pass and returned it 60 yards for the touchdown. Martin also came back with several stops including blowing up newcomer Michael Roberts out of Cache, Okla. That was the hit of the day as it got the full attention of all the spectators (approximately 200 fans) in the south stands of Boone Pickens Stadium.

"Weeden fired that one right to him," said Gundy of Martin's interception. "The difference is he caught it and ran and scored and made it look easy. Cate threw one to Hubert (Anyiam) and he dropped it. I think it is important that when that happens you make a play. He (Martin) is supposed to be ordering a tux for a prom and he's out here playing with guys out here four years older than him. That's pretty good."

Cate threw his interception late, actually on the last play of the scrimmage as new junior college safety Lucien Antoine undercut a vertical route down the middle intended for Bryant and made the catch and then returned the ball 18 yards.

"I was really encouraged by "The Punisher" stepping underneath that vertical route and making that interception," said Gundy of Antoine. "That was really a nice play on his part."

The defense forced three turnovers overall as defensive tackle Jonathan Lewis recovered a fumble by Roberts. Others on the defensive line that appeared to play well included newcomer defensive tackle Swanson Miller, veteran defensive tackle Jeray Chatham, and defensive ends Ugo Chinasa and Richetti Jones.

Besides newcomers Martin and Antoine, other defenders that showed up constantly included "star" linebacker Andre Sexton with five tackles, safety Ricky Price with four tackles and a sack, and linebacker Orie Lemon, who was in on three tackles. Deron Fontenot, at the "star," also showed up with a couple of tackles and a sack of Alex Cate.

All in all it was a good way to close out phase one of the spring and kickoff spring break.

"First scrimmage offensively, not exactly what we had hoped for," said quarterback Zac Robinson. "We'll get some things corrected with some of the new guys and even myself and we'll just get better from here."

First, though it's time for some spring break. The Cowboys will return to spring practice on Tuesday, March 25, with another practice on Wednesday and another open scrimmage on that Friday.

Spring concludes on Saturday, April 12, with the Orange-White Game at 4 p.m. There is no admission charge and country performer Keith Anderson, a native of Miami, Okla., will give a free concert after the game.

GoPokes Top Stories