Hard to grade spring competition, since anything good for an offense is equally bad for the defense, and vice versa. But we saw enough at OSU’s Orange Blitz on Saturday to get a good read on the Cowboys.
Deep throws: A
J.W. Walsh and Mason Rudolph combined to throw six deep balls. Four were complete. In the 7-on-7 drill, Walsh hit Jhajuan Seales on a post pattern and overthrew on a streak pattern. In the scrimmage, Walsh hit Blake Webb for 30 yards down the middle and overthrew Brandon Sheperd down the middle, and Rudolph threw a 48-yard touchdown pass to Webb on a post pattern and hit Webb for 21 yards on a stop-and-go route.
Short throws: C
The OSU short passing game was not splendid. Walsh completed an acceptable seven of 10 passes that weren’t deep, but Rudolph completed just one of four. Jake Hubenak was 1-of-2. That’s 9-of-16 throwing on passes 15 yards or less past the line of scrimmage. Ashton Lampkin returned an interception for a touchdown after Walsh’s sideline pass was thrown behind C.J. Curry, who batted the ball into the air.
Most were skeptical of the practice format, and only about 2,500 fans attended. But they missed a good show. The Cowboys ran 20 7-on-7 plays, which are interesting, and 42 11-on-11 plays, which included full contact and some tackling. Interviews — live and taped — were piped in throughout the afternoon, keeping more senses activated. All in all, at least as entertaining as most spring games.
Pass rush: B
The Cowboys harassed the quarterbacks — Rudolph was sacked thrice and Walsh once — but OSU’s offense was playing with a makeshift offensive line. Because of injury, projected starters Brandon Garrett and Devin Davis are not going through spring practice. Defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer experimented with schemes; rush end Jimmy Bean dropped into pass coverage on one play and ended up trying to cover speedster Tyreek Hill downfield.
Alumni sightings: A
Josh Fields and Russell Okung were among the former Cowboys who stopped by the stadium and were interviewed by OSU voice Larry Reece. Both were fun. Okung, of the Super Bowl champion Seahawks, said the vaunted Seattle fans don’t match up to OSU fans. And Fields showed a bite of humor and sarcasm when describing the current Cowboys. “We wonder how much better they’d be if they were getting paid like we were,” Fields deadpanned, a not-so-subtle jab at the Sports Illustrated expose’ of last September.
Brandon Sheperd made a nifty one-handed catch on a swing pass, but no other Cowboy made an extraordinary catch, Curry dropped a short pass from Walsh and even the OSU defense failed to snag a couple of interceptable balls.