Defense Shines In Scrimmage

STILLWATER - What a difference a week makes. Mike Gundy was bragging about both sides of the ball after last Saturday's scrimmage, and maybe was a little more enthusiastic about the effort out of his number one offense that featured success passing and running the football and scoring points. But Saturday night it was the Cowboy defense that put the hammer down inside Boone Pickens Stadium.

It began with a diving interception by cornerback Brodrick Brown, his second in two scrimmages with the other being a pick six. That was followed up by a stop on third-and-one when middle linebacker and leader Orie Lemon stood up running back Jeremy Smith, a big hit that set a tone. Lemon was held out of the scrimmage last Saturday but in his brief appearance Saturday night made his presence felt.

"I talked to Orie about getting him about 20 plays and getting him out," said linebackers coach Glenn Spencer. "He made the most out of it with that early hit on that third down for the stop."

"We obviously had about a 100-play scrimmage," said Gundy of the affair. "Defense performed very well and corrected a lot of their mistakes from our scrimmage a week ago. I thought they made a lot of plays, tackled well, and did not make very many plays on offense.

"Saw a fine line where you make a few catches down the field and convert you get on a roll and look really good. We had too many balls dropped on the ground and had some mistakes and just didn't play very well on that side of the ball, and allowed the defense to make a number of plays and had a much better scrimmage than we (offense) did.

"The good thing is we are two weeks out from playing (Washington State in the season opener). We've got plenty of guys that can make plays but we didn't perform tonight and we needed somebody to step up and provide some leadership and make plays."

"The offense dropped severall passes and when they do that that kind of kills the drive," said defensive coordinator Bill Young. "Those are things that aren't going to happen very often with our guys.

"The good thing for us is that we didn't line up offsides, and the mistakes we made a week ago, we didn't make those. We got some three and outs and we stayed fresh and nobody really got hurt and that is critical for us."

The scrimmage culminated with a sack by junior defensive end Richetti Jones, who has had a solid camp at the starting defensive end spot replacing suspended veteran Jamie Blatnick, who just recently got back on the practice field. There is enthusiasm all around by the defenders.

"Man, I was dog tired. I was cramping up and I was dog tired on that last play," said Jones. "It was ridiculous but that is what all that work in the summer time pays off for. We have really been focussed and just trying to get better every day and doing it in the temperature because when Washington State comes down here it is going to be just like this."

There were some positives for the offense with powerback Bryant Ward making some plays and as Gundy mentioned they hit a few passes with receivers Josh Cooper and Bo Bowling having some of the brighter moments by the offense.

The brightest was a four-yard touchdown toss on the fade from quarterback Brandon Weeden to wide receiver Michael Harrison. The positives were too few and far between for everybody on offense, including coordinator Dana Holgorsen.

"My job is to get first downs and score points and we didn't do that today," said Holgorsen also mentioning that he wants to see the defense do well from an overal team viewpoint.

"I can make a lot of excuses about why that didn't happen, but the bottom line is we put guys in position to make plays and nobody stepped up to make a play today. Very average, extremely average.

"Brandon's (Weeden) tempo was very average and his eyes weren't in the right spot. You know with Brandon it is the same thing in that he hasn't played a whole lot of football and he needs to learn from his mistakes. What is discouraging is when we do call good plays and we do get the ball to the right spot there are guys not being able to handle that, and that is what is discouraging."

Weeden knows what is coming in Sunday's meetings to review the scrimmage. He also knows that he is looking forward to seeing a scout team with Washington State looks instead of the first team Cowboys defense that is zoned in on what they have seen all spring, all summer, and now all camp.

"I know exactly what Coach Holgorsen is going to say tomorrow and I know where I messed up," said Weeden. "We complete a big ball and then we move fast and we come back and throw a ball to (Justin) Blackmon and he misses it and that is unlike Blackmon.

"We have to hit back-to-back passes in order to get first downs and get momentum and keep the chains moving. Spring, summer, fall camp they (defense) know exactly what we are doing, but we still have to go out and execute the offense."

The Cowboys will now have two days away from practice with Sunday off and the traditional first day of classes off (MondaY) before getting back to work on Tuesday and the focus goes entirely to preparing for the Washington State Cougars on Sept. 4 at Boone Pickens Stadium.

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