Big 12: Darius Hart

Competitive OSU scrimmage marked by gadget plays

April, 20, 2009
4/20/09
2:44
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

Fans who attended the Orange-White scrimmage at Oklahoma State at least could believe they were watching a game where real stakes were being competed for.

Quarterback Zac Robinson played three series in Saturday's scrimmage and fans got the feeling that opposing OSU coaches were scheming against each other to try and win the scrimmage.

They even got a chance to see tailback Keith Toston throw the first pass of his college career, a 41-yard scoring toss to Justin Horton that might keep any lurking coordinators from around the Big 12 on their toes. That's on top of a couple of throwback passes to quarterbacks that also were cooked up, much to the delight of about 12,000 fans who attended the free scrimmage.

The biggest concern for the Cowboys was their defense. Specific concerns were the development of Richetti Jones and Darius Hart at defensive end. Jones is bouncing back from a hip injury and has been slowly returning to shape. And Hart, a transfer from Pearl River (Miss.) Community College, appears ready to contribute.

This is good news for new OSU coordinator Bill Young, who has dialed back some of the demands for the OSU defense from those of his predecessor, current Toledo coach Tim Beckman.

That obviously will be important for a Cowboys defense hasn't ranked better than 74th nationally in total defense in coach Mike Gundy's tenure -- including 93rd last season. OSU can't afford to play like last season when it allowed 159 points in losses to Texas Tech, Oklahoma and Oregon to finish 2008.

Another question was the backup quarterback behind Robinson. Former minor-league baseball player Brandon Weeden appeared to have pulled ahead early in camp although Alex Cate charged back in the last several practices to keep Gundy from declaring a backup -- yet.

"For a while there, I thought Weeden was gonna step up and take that role, but I'm not sure he did," Gundy told reporters after the scrimmage Saturday night. "We'll probably go through the summer and let those guys compete."

Weeden was pleased with most of his work this spring learning the offense.

"Overall, I thought I had a great spring," Weeden told the Daily Oklahoman. "By the end, I felt like I knew the offense a lot better.

"I would have liked to have played better [in the spring game], but the sun will come up tomorrow and we'll get it on in the summer."

Gundy also hoped to find another receiver to complement Dez Bryant, who missed spring practice while recovering from knee surgery. Suspended contender Bo Bowling already was out of the mix, leaving Hubert Anyiam and Justin Blackmon with a chance to impress coaches during the spring.

Blackmon did so throughout the spring and Anyiam was the most impressive receiver in the spring game with six catches for 106 yards.

The spring work didn't answer all of Gundy's questions. But he came away with a better picture of his team and a stronger idea if they are really ready to compete for its first Big 12 South title.

"Our goal as a coaching staff is to let a lot of young players that hadn't competed much in a pressure situation in front of a crowd get out there and see what they could do," Gundy told reporters after the scrimmage. "They did a really nice job, and we were excited about some of the plays that those young guys made."

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