STILLWATER — There was much gnashing of teeth and rending of orange garments when Oklahoma State football announced it wouldn’t have a spring game this year.
A good number of gnashers and the renders said the decision was a mistake. A PR misstep. An opportunity for a TV broadcast missed. A slap in fans’ faces even.
And Orange Blitz? What a dumb name.
But after Saturday afternoon, I’ve got a different question — why doesn’t everyone do what the Cowboys did?
The reason is that many spring games have become convoluted. Split squads. Goofy rules. Alternative scoring.
A year or so ago during OU’s Red-White game, there was an alternate scoring system in place. The offense was supposed to get extra points for long plays. The defense was supposed to get points for three and outs. Or something like that. All sorts of craziness.
It was so crazy, in fact, that it was scrapped mid-way through the scrimmage.
I’m sure OSU and every other team in Division-I football has done something similar. It’s because coaches are trying to do something to motivate players and interest fans in a game that no one cares who wins.
But in the process, many teams have split the offense and the defense onto different sides. You don’t get to see what the first-team offense can do together. You don’t get a sense of what the first-team defense needs to work on. Linemen aren’t playing with the guys that they’ll normally be combo blocking alongside. Quarterbacks aren’t throwing to all of the receivers who they’ll have at their disposal. It just doesn’t give you a true sense of things.
But Saturday afternoon, people who were at Boone Pickens Stadium got a pretty good idea of the Cowboys’ strengths and weaknesses.
Offensive line and safeties are shaky.
Wide receivers and defensive line are stout.
Quarterbacks, running backs, linebackers and cornerbacks are promising.
You got a read on where the Cowboys are because Mike Gundy and Co. didn’t do anything convoluted. The team stretched, went through position drills, did some seven-on-seven, then finished with a short scrimmage.
Now, there were parts of the afternoon that weren’t great theater.
That is what every team does on the field before every game. Not exactly earth-shattering stuff. But if I had to choose between position drills and a split-squad spring game, I’d take position drills. Everyone was involved, so you watch Tyreek Hill catching passes, Mason Rudolph throwing them or Kevin Peterson batting them away.