STILLWATER – The Cowboys' anticipated rout of Savannah State spun into reality early.
And just as quickly, it spun the focus to a glimpse of the future with several new faces playing significant minutes and some providing significant moments – including guys not named Wes Lunt.
Overall, nine true freshmen played for the Pokes.
OSU literally emptied the bench, too, using more than 95 players, leading one school official to exclaim: “We were playing with a bunch of Rudys on the field at the end.”
If the runaway win against an overmatched opponent provided little answers about their squad, Cowboys coaches at least got some grins in rewarding so many players following a long, hot preseason of practices.
“Everybody got to play, which is enjoyable for me,” Mike Gundy said. “A lot of guys on our team work hard in the spring, put a lot of time and effort in during the summer and during the four weeks of preseason camp. It's good for them to be able to get out on the field, get in front of their families and play some college football.”
Before the walk-ons flooded the turf, OSU also got a good long look at their youthful reinforcements. And in a season in which they'll be counting on more young players than usual, the work was necessary heading into next week's game at Arizona.
“We need to get those guys some work,” Gundy said. “You'd like to make sure they have some experience prior to getting thrown into the fire.”
True freshman Austin Hays led the Cowboys in receiving, catching eight passes for 77 yards and a touchdown. Brandon Sheperd, another freshman wideout, caught a scoring pass and transfer John Goodlett had OSU's other TD reception.
Freshman cornerback Ashton Lampkin produced the Cowboys' first takeaway of the 2012 season, picking off Savannah State's Antonio Bostick. Sophomore linebacker Lyndell Johnson picked off another pass and dropped Bostick for a 14-yard loss on a sack.
Sophomore Desmond Roland, new to a potentially significant role, ran for 105 yards and three scores – on nine carries.
The Cowboys have a dynamic duo in backs Joseph Randle and Jeremy Smith. But there's room for Roland to contribute, too, if he's up for it.
“As soon as last season was over with,” Roland said, “I felt like I needed to mature up, get in the weight room a little bit and show the coaches that I want it. When it came to my time, I feel like I showed them.”
Lunt's backup, redshirt freshman J.W. Walsh, made his OSU debut, completing 13-of-21 passes for 149 yards and two touchdowns. While he lost a spring battle with Lunt for the starting job, he still figures in the offense, whether in a package designed to utilize his running skills or running the full offense.
“Words can't describe how I felt playing tonight,” Walsh said. “It's something you've got to cherish.”
Lampkin may have cherished his interception a bit too much, at least initially, carrying on enough to draw the ire of co-defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer and cornerbacks coach Jason Jones.
“It was a nice play,” Spencer said. “He read the quarterback well, he sank back well. I'm going to have a little talk with him, and Coach Jones did, too, about a little excessive celebration. We'll get that out of him.
“That's not how we act after we've done something big. We need to act like we've done it before. He's young. And I'm glad to correct those kind of attitudes and errors than some others.”