Monday, April 7, 2014
Spring game review: Oklahoma State
By Jake Trotter
STILLWATER, Okla. -- Oklahoma State didn't have a traditional spring game but held an “Orange Blitz” open practice Saturday in its place, which culminated with a lengthy scrimmage at the end. Here’s a recap of what happened:
WR Blake Webb missed almost all of 2013 with a foot injury, but is ready to make an impact in 2014.
Best offensive performance: Despite losing three of its top four pass-catchers from last season'steam, Oklahoma State could be as deep as it has ever been at wide receiver. And Blake Webb, who had a big performance Saturday, could be a big reason why. On the opening series of the scrimmage, Webb hauled in a long pass over a defender down the middle of the field from J.W. Walsh. On the ensuing series, he beat the secondary deep again and reeled in a 55-yard touchdown catch from freshman quarterback Mason Rudolph. Webb was a big part of the receiving rotation two years ago as a freshman, but missed virtually the entire 2013 season with a foot injury. He came back to impress this spring, and he seems poised to give the Cowboys a reliable weapon out of the slot.
Best defensive performance: The Cowboys need a replacement for All-Big 12 cornerback Justin Gilbert, who will likely be a first-round pick in the upcoming NFL draft. Ashton Lampkin looks primed to step into the starting lineup for Gilbert opposite two-year starter Kevin Peterson. Lampkin, who has been a key reserve the last few seasons, intercepted Walsh during the scrimmage for a pick-six by wrestling away the ball from receiver C.J. Curry, then racing down the sidelines for a touchdown. Lampkin was named Oklahoma State’s special teams MVP last season. He should have a much bigger role on the defense in 2014.
Best debut: Behind closed practices, running back/receiver Tyreek Hill had been generating plenty of buzz with his breakaway speed. Hill didn’t break away any big runs in the Orange Blitz, but he still showcased his track speed by getting to the edge of the line of scrimmage on a couple of his runs. Hill only touched the ball five times Saturday, but there’s no doubt he’s going to be a big part of the Oklahoma State attack in the fall. The Cowboys have plans to utilize the blazing-fast Hill the way West Virginia did Tavon Austin two seasons ago -- both as a running back and as a slot receiver -- to keep opposing defenses off-balance.
Notable play: Rudolph struggled a bit, often making ill-advised throws into coverage. But he also showed off his big arm with the touchdown pass over the top to Webb. Rudolph put the ball on the money, and offered a glimpse of the throws he can make to stretch a defense.
Developing storyline: Walk-on quarterback Daxx Garman had been one of the breakout performers for the Cowboys this spring, shining during a scrimmage earlier in the week. Garman, however, did not participate Saturday after injuring his knee in practice the day before. Coach Mike Gundy said the extent of the injury wasn’t certain, but that he thought Garman would “be fine.” Garman is scheduled to be evaluated again sometime today.
Biggest question answered: This is the third year in a row the Cowboys have gone through spring with a quarterback competition. That competition, however, could be coming to a close. Walsh took all the snaps with the first team Saturday, and while Gundy stopped short of naming Walsh the starter afterward, all signs point to that happening soon. “I think so,” Gundy said, when asked if Walsh had the clear edge. “We’ll finish up next week and then make a decision on exactly what we want to do. But I would have to agree.”
Quotable: “[Walsh] has become more of a leader. He’s staying in the pocket more, which is good. Maybe a year or two years ago, he’d get nervous back there and start scrambling. But now he’s sitting in there and throwing. And that’s great. … he’s going to be our guy. He has to be.” – veteran offensive tackle Daniel Koenig