Cowboy Football: Major Scrimmage

STILLWATER - Originally, the plan called for somewhere in the neighborhood of 85 to 90 plays as the Oklahoma State Cowboys held their first major scrimmage of the spring Friday. But head coach Mike Gundy, his staff and the players were having so much fun they just let it keep going. When the scrimmage was over the Cowboys had spent almost three hours on the field and had run more than 125 plays.

Our calculation had 128 plays to be exact, and we might have missed one or two. The scrimmage featured a red-hot starting quarterback as Zac Robinson was on target, a wide variety of receivers making plays, and a secondary making some bullet style hits.

They say opposites attract like hot and cold, sweet and spicy, salt and pepper, and that was the case in the scrimmage as the offense had its moments, particularly as mentioned in the passing game, and then the defense had its highlights, again primarily in the passing game with big hits on receivers, a couple of sacks, and an interception by veteran cornerback turned safety T.J. Bell.

Zac Robinson was flat out impressive as the junior-to-be quarterback was slow starting at first when the offense was working on coming off the 2-yard line. Robinson was the victim of a couple of drops and some standout defensive plays by cornerback Perrish Cox and safety T.J. Bell.

Then when Gundy moved the offense out to the 30-yard line it all picked up as he went on to connect on 13-of-15 passing for 140 yards and a one-yard touchdown pass to Stillwater native Bryant Ward. That touchdown pass was set up in part by a 13-yard completion to sophomore wide receiver Damian Davis. The highlight tosses included completions of 17, 16, 24, and 20 yards to Dez Bryant. Robinson also connected with sophomore running back Kendall Hunter for a 24-yard gain. Robinson said he felt the success and yes, was kind of in a zone.

"I thought the offensive line played really good and I hardly had any pressure," said Robinson, who was quick to spread the credit. "Guys were getting open and making plays. I felt it (how hot he was) a little bit. I know I thought we hadn't had an incompletion in a while and we got a rhythm going both in the play calls and then with the execution. It is a lot of fun when you get that going that way."

Gundy said, "I thought he played well and Zac is getting to the point now where he has enough experience and has run with the ones that he can perform better with each practice. Dez (Bryant) made a few plays today. It will be interesting to see how Dez played without the ball on the other plays, but you sure like for him to show up on Saturdays and be there on third-down situations because he is very competitive, has good hands, and can really make plays."

Overall, Gundy, who looks for success on both sides of the ball, liked what he saw. The playmakers stood out with Robinson, Hunter, Bryant, and Davis making a lot of plays.

"We got a lot of work done today, about 120 plays," said Gundy. "I thought it was very competitive on both sides of the ball, too many penalties on offense, kind of sloppy, and then defensively gave up a few plays on third and long that I was concerned about. We stayed healthy and I thought we were running to the ball well on defense. I didn't see a lot of missed tackles. On offense we protected well, threw the ball pretty decent, and some of the younger guys made plays. Overall, it was a productive scrimmage."

The scrimmage featured the first offense against the first defense, twos versus twos, and threes versus threes. Later in the scrimmage they did mix up backup quarterbacks Brandon Weeden and Alex Cate working with the first and second offensive units. Both quarterbacks had success and both had some problems while at the controls. It was a good blend of offensive and defensive success in the scrimmage, the perfect scrimmage for each side to coach off of.

On defense linebackers Orie Lemon and Justin Gent showed up on several plays. The defense was able to create some pressure with sacks coming from Jamie Blatnick at end, Seb Clements at linebacker and Jeray Chatham up the middle. T.J. Bell had the only interception of the scrimmage although there were several drops by defensive backs. Bell has really come on with the move to safety and has been playing well.

"I feel that way and I think safety was a good move for me," said Bell, the younger brother of former Cowboy and current Detroit Lions running back Tatum Bell. "I see the field and try to come down and use some of my athletic ability. I think Coach Beck (Beckman) saw that when I was at corner. It is a good move for me and I'm comfortable with the defense and the position."

OSU safeties coach Joe DeForest said, "T.J. has done the best job of anyone in my group of coming along. He's been moved around his whole career and has done a tremendous job of going from cornerback to safety, back to corner, and now back to safety. He has had a really good spring up to this point."

Bell was not the most noticed safety as recent junior college transfer Lucien Antoine, playing in front of his former coaching staff and many of his teammates from Fort Scott (Kans.) Community College that were visiting at the practice, lit up some of his new teammates. Antoine made a big hit on a Jeremy Broadway catch that resulted in 12 yards and a first down. He came back a few plays later and prevented a first down catch by Damian Davis with another blast coming up the center of the field. Then during the goal-line scrimmage he came screaming up repeatedly to get in on tackles.

"Definitely, Lucien showed up because he had a fan club here with nearly all of his junior college team was here," said DeForest. "I think that was motivation enough for him. He has done a good job up to this point and we don't want to put too much on him because he has a lot to go mentally and once he does that everybody can see he has got the physical tools to get it done. He is still with the twos (on the depth chart) but I wanted him to get a chance to run with the ones and the first time defensive line and linebackers."

Gundy added, "He really gives our defense a lift, real impressed with our defense and how they are playing as a group. We are real excited about how the new players have really merged and are playing with our veteran players as a group on that side of the ball. Lucien brings the big hit capability to our defense and as he comes along will really change things. Our defense is better now than it was at the end of the season."

All in all it was a good scrimmage. The best part about it was there appeared to be absolutely no injuries. No player even had to be helped off the field.

The Cowboys will do it again, probably for just as long or longer next Friday, April 4, again in front of the fans. Then the spring will conclude with the Orange-White Game on April 12 at 4 p.m. to be followed by a free concert in Gallagher-Iba Arena featuring Keith Anderson.

Scrimmage Scoring Summary
Zac Robinson 5-yard touchdown run (PAT Good). Drive: 10 plays, 70 yards.
Bryant Ward 1-yard pass from Zac Robinson (PAT Good. Drive: 8 plays, 65 yards.
Jeremy Broadway 30-yard pass from Brandon Weeden (PAT Good) Drive: 3 plays, 30 yards.
Dan Bailey 19-yard field goal. Drive: 5 plays, 21 yards.
Dan Bailey 22-yard field goal. Drive: 7 plays, 18 yards.

Goal-line Scrimmage
Beau Johnson 1-yard touchdown run (PAT Good). Drive: 3 plays, 5 yards.
Beau Johnson 1-yard touchdown run (No PAT attempted). Drive: 2 plays, 5 yards.
Ben Bailey 3-yard pass from Alex Cate (PAT Good)>

Selected Scrimmage Statistics

Melvin Davis: 11 attempts, 44 yards
Michael Roberts: 7 attempts, 36 yards
Kendall Hunter: 4 attempts, 31 yards
Beau Johnson: 9 attempts, 28 yards, 2 TDs
Brandon Weeden: 6 attempts, 12 yards
Zac Robinson: 6 attempts, 9 yards, 1 TD

Zac Robinson: 15-13-0, 140 yards, TD.
Brandon Weeden: 12-7-0, 85 yards.
Alex Cate: 11-7-1, 85 yards, TD.

Dez Bryant: 5 rec., 91 yards.
Damian Davis: 5 rec., 51 yards.
Jeremy Broadway: 2 rec., 23 yards.
Kendall Hunter: 3 rec., 51 yards.
Todd Nelson: 2 rec., 19 yards.

Justin Gent - 6
Orie Lemon - 6
James Thomas - 5
Lucien Antoine - 5
Seb Clements - 4
Andre Sexton - 4

Jamie Blatnick, Seb Clements, and Jeray Chatham

T.J. Bell

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