By Jason Elmquist
CNHI News Service
STILLWATER – The Oklahoma State football team held its first scrimmage of the fall on Saturday with coach Mike Gundy electing to run the scrimmage inside the Sherman Smith Training Center.
“We had a good scrimmage with about 120 plays and had a great attitude,” Gundy said. “I’m really pleased with the effort and the attitude of the players. ... I was very pleased. There were plays on offense, there were good plays on defense. We had a few miscues, but for the most part it was a clean scrimmage.”
The Cowboys got the chance to work inside briefly on Thursday with inclement weather in the area, but with OSU scheduled to open the first two weeks of the season in domes, the Cowboy coach decided to get some work indoors – even though weather conditions were near perfect for an outdoor practice.
“It was the first time we’ve really used it in a setting like that and it was awesome being in there,” Gundy said. “... There is an advantage in that, in that it should be a controlled climate. So what better arena than the indoor – it simulates being in a dome.”
With Oklahoma State getting its first chance to go all-out in pads for the first time since the spring scrimmage in April, Gundy said he saw several positions making strides on both sides of the ball.
While he got some improvement from a position he’d been looking at since the spring – defensive end – he also got a bit of a surprise with some solid play from the running backs.
First-year offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich saw the similar things from his backs, but it wasn’t just the big two of Jeremy Smith and Desmond Roland.
“We busted some good runs and I think you’ve got to give the credit to those guys as well to the offensive line – somebody’s got to block those people to create those holes,” Yurcich said. “We wanted to see some of the young guys get in there, too. Both (freshmen) Corion Webster and Rennie Childs had some reps today, which was nice to see what they were all about and what they could do live in action – along with (sophomore) Caleb Muncrief.”
Though Yurcich was happy with the performance in the running game, he was far from complimentary with the pass attack following the scrimmage.
“There were too many turnovers. We’ve got to continue to work on timing,” Yurcich said. “There were also too many drops. Just the finer points. We’ve just got to improve.”
The Cowboys will return to practice this week with another scrimmage scheduled for Saturday – before classes begin for the student-athletes on Aug. 19.
Starter named by Gundy
Cowboy coach Mike Gundy made an unprecedented proclamation following Saturday’s scrimmage about a heated position battle.
Freshman Ben Grogan from Arlington, Texas, was named the Cowboys’ starting kicker thanks to his performance in the scrimmage.
“The kicker is going to be the freshman,” Gundy said.
Gundy said part of the reason the freshman got the job was junior kicker Bobby Stonebraker, who is listed on the roster on the official OSU athletic website, wasn’t with the team.
“Right now, (Grogan) is the only guy left. Stonebraker is not with us right now, but Ben has kicked well and kicked good today, so he’s our kicker after this scrimmage,” the OSU coach said.
As for Grogan, Gundy said he still has plenty to prove before the Cowboys take on Mississippi State in the season opener – which will mark the first time in three years OSU wasn’t relying on Quinn Sharp with the kicking duties.
“I like his demeanor up to this point, but it’s really early,” Gundy said. “In fairness, he kicked good today – not great – but he kicked good. I was pleased with his field goals and his PATs for his first scrimmage.”
– Jason Elmquist is sports editor of The Stillwater NewsPress.