<
>

Spring game review: Oklahoma State

5d

STILLWATER, Okla. -- Oklahoma State held its Orange-White spring game on Saturday. The White, led by quarterback Mason Rudolph, defeated the Orange, 31-13. Here’s a snapshot of what else happened:

Best offensive performance: As the only healthy scholarship running back on the roster this spring, Rennie Childs was given the opportunity to prove he can be the Cowboys’ every-down running back. Saturday, he made the most of that opportunity, rushing for a game-high 83 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries. “Rennie has played better this spring; he’s accepted the challenge,” coach Mike Gundy said. “He wasn’t as physical over his first few years here as he needed to be. We pushed him hard through the spring. He got hit more than what we would have wanted him to, but we felt like he needed to be in that role. He needed to get tired. He needed to get tackled. He needed to find a way to make some plays.” Childs did just that in the first half, reeling off a 60-yard run around the edge to set up a touchdown. Childs, however, will have to continue to make plays if he wants to claim the starting role; highly-touted junior-college transfer Chris Carson is set to arrive on campus over the summer.

Best defensive performance: Kevin Peterson, Ramon Richards and Darius Curry all recorded interceptions, but the most impressive defender of the day might have been Vincent Taylor. The 300-pound sophomore defensive tackle blew up several off-tackle running plays and fought his way into the backfield on numerous occasions to finish with three tackles for loss and a forced fumble. With James Castleman and Ofa Hautau gone, the Cowboys are counting on Taylor to step up and fill a major hole in the middle of their defense. "He’s the guy we really needed to come on,” said defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer. “If I had to give a most improved from the guys that were here last year, it would be Vincent Taylor. I challenged him in the spring. I told him to go win the day, and he did."

Best debut: Spring games for true freshman quarterbacks can be disastrous. But John Kolar didn’t look overwhelmed in his public debut. The ESPN 300 signee out of Norman, Oklahoma, tossed 52- and 42-yard bombs to Chris Lacy. He showed some quickness, too, rushing for 17 yards on four carries. “He has a lot of natural ability,” said offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich. "He’s a good athlete. There’s a lot of good to take from today.” With Rudolph and J.W. Walsh topping the depth chart, Kolar is a probable redshirt candidate this season. But he showed Saturday that he has the tools to develop into a quality quarterback when his time comes.

Developing storyline: After perennially featuring one of the best running games in the country for years, Oklahoma State took a major step back last year. The Pokes averaged just 3.51 yards per carry, which ranked ninth in the league. In an effort to boost the running game, the Cowboys have plans to lean more on their tight ends and fullbacks, or “Cowboy backs” as they’ve begun calling them, who can block, but also be threats in the passing game. The hybrid position group, which comprises Zac Veatch, Blake Jarwin and Jordan Frazier (as well as Jeremy Seaton, who sat out the spring game), were heavily utilized in the spring game, wearing black jerseys so they could play for both the Orange and White sides. Veatch caught a touchdown. Jarwin and Frazier had receptions, too. “We thought that over the last few years by not having that position, that fullback and that tight end, we struggled some running the football,” Gundy said. “We feel like that can help us."

Biggest question answered: The spring game underscored why this might be the deepest the Cowboys have been at both receiver and cornerback in a long time. Starters Brandon Sheperd and David Glidden sat out the spring game, but Lacy and James Washington both surpassed 100 yards receiving. Redshirt freshman Keenen Brown added a 28-yard reception, while Austin Hays, who has been banged up the past two years after starting as a true freshman in 2012, finished with four catches. “We have 10 [receivers] coming back who can contribute and make plays,” Gundy said. The Cowboys seem to be just as deep at cornerback. Peterson, Richards and Ashton Lampkin all have starting experience. Transfer Michael Hunter, who started the past two seasons at corner for Indiana, will be joining the team in the summer. “There’s been a really good battle there,” Gundy said of his receivers and corners. “They’ve been competing all spring. It’s been fun to watch because they’re pretty good football players. It’s been really good for our football team.”

Quotable: "It's just enjoyable for me [right now]. I like our schemes on both sides of the ball, I like our depth. If we get some plays out of the running back and quarterback, we have a chance to be a pretty good football team.” -- Gundy