, Muskogee, OK

April 3, 2014

Same as previous springs: OSU spotlight still on quarterbacks

By Jason Elmquist
CNHI News Service

— STILLWATER – Spring practice is winding down for the Oklahoma State football team, which held it’s ninth practice of spring ball in the Sherman E. Smith Training Center — dressed in full pads for a nearly two-hour long session.

“We had a good scrimmage today. There were a lot of mistakes, but there were some guys that made some plays, about 85 plays,” Cowboy coach Mike Gundy said. “... We need about 50 more practices. Unfortunately, we don’t get that many, but I was pleased with the effort today. I thought we improved as a football team.”

As has been the focal point of the Cowboy program the past two springs, the quarterbacks continue to work in a rotation — splitting time during the scrimmage between J.W. Walsh, Daxx Garman and true freshman Mason Rudolph.

“J.W. goes out there at first because he’s the most experienced and he’s earned that, then we have the other two guys, who are inexperienced, that are also out there competing,” Gundy said. “We put Daxx in there some with the ones. In practice, we’ll also let Mason work with the No. 1s.

“We have the same schemes, we just have to call different plays based on who’s in the game. But J.W. has be the guy who has been in there and made the most plays for us throughout spring and he understands our offense.”

While Walsh has the advantage in playing in the system, that isn’t entirely what offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich is worried about. After throwing 13 interceptions a year ago between Walsh and Clint Chelf, the second-year coordinator is looking for his signal callers to be careful with the ball — especially with OSU having such a young defense.

“Ball security. That’s where it starts. Also, getting us into good plays or out of bad plays — making sure we have the advantage from a numbers standpoint and understanding the situation,” Yurcich said.

As for that defense, which graduated seven starters and 12 within the two-deep, it showed some holes in the scrimmage — allowing the OSU offense to score on a some big plays in both the running and passing game.

“We are playing with a bunch of guys who haven’t been here,” defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer said. “... I told the guys on scholarship that they need to make a decision of being mentally tough and wanting to be really good and if they don’t then we are going to have issues. We’ve got to work on the little things in these next practices.”

Fans will get a chance to see the new players on defense, as well as the news players on offense — including quarterback Mason Rudolph and speedsters Tyreek Hill, a junior college transfer who has been working at running back this spring — when Oklahoma State hosts the Orange Blitz Saturday at Boone Pickens Stadium.

The event is a change from the usual spring game OSU has held in the past, and most college programs hold for their fans. Instead, the Orange Blitz will give fans an opportunity to witness what a typical Cowboy practice entails and the chance to meet the players on the field afterward.

“The move we made was based on what’s best for our team, first off, and what we thought would be better for our fans,” Gundy said. “This will give them an opportunity to see different players compete in different drills. ... We’re going to try to create what would be like a (NFL) combine atmosphere — with interviews and things on the video board, a live mic walking around the practice where I’ll make comments at times and try to entertain the fans.”