STILLWATER – Mike Gundy has scrapped the spring game, at least temporarily.
Out with the Orange-White.
In with the Orange Blitz, which thankfully for Oklahoma State football fans isn't the latest frozen yogurt shop in Stillwater.
Gundy promises fun, if not game, and even some scrimmaging when Boone Pickens Stadium opens to the public Saturday.
Gates open at 12:30 p.m., with the scheduled practice running from 1:30 to 3.
With Oklahoma State’s overall numbers down, due to a large outgoing senior class, other departures and a few injuries, splitting sides for a game format would be neither easy nor prudent.
Instead, Gundy plans an upbeat workout that will feature drills and skills, some running commentary with him mic’d up and entertaining via the video board, and finally a scrimmage session that will stamp a competitive edge to the day.
“This will give them an opportunity to see different players compete in different drills,” Gundy said. “We’re going to try and create a ‘combine’ atmosphere, where there’s interviews and things on the video board. There will be some pre-recorded messages up there.
“I think it’ll be very entertaining. It’ll be a better day, not only for our team and our preparations, but also for our fans.”
So, what to watch Saturday?
Here’s a few suggestions, for starters:
QBs, Of Course
If it’s spring in Stillwater, there’s a quarterback battle, right?
Well, yes… and no.
Veteran J.W. Walsh seems to have a hold on the job — for now — with Daxx Garman and Mason Rudolph providing the competition.
Walsh, who has started eight games over two seasons, offers experience and more of a dual-threat element to the offense.
Garman has drawn raves – even from former Cowboy Brandon Weeden – for his arm strength and accuracy in the passing game.
Rudolph, who could be winding down his high school days right now, enrolled early and carries the tag of “quarterback of the future.” It’s just a matter of when the future becomes now.
Hill The Thrill
You’ve surely heard about Tyreek Hill’s speed.
Now witness it.
The junior college transfer, versatile enough to play a receiver spot in the slot or line up at running back, has split his time this spring between football and the track team, where he’s already left his mark – and claimed some school marks.
He’s a football player Saturday.
The Next Wave
Josh Stewart and Tracy Moore are gone, yet the Cowboys receiving corps might be better.
The youngsters who flashed potential last fall are growing up, providing plenty of playmakers.
“You see those guys’ bodies, they’ve really improved themselves there,” said offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich. “And more importantly, or as important as that, is their maturity level and their leadership qualities.
“They’re emerging as leaders. That’s really important and good to see.”
There’s much to see here, too, with Jhajuan Seales, Marcell Ateman, Brandon Sheperd, C.J. Curry, Blake Webb, Austin Hays and more all pushing for prominent roles.
Not interceptions and fumble recoveries, but massive overhaul on the defensive side, where seven new starters must be identified.
Gone are the familiar and favorite faces: Justin Gilbert, Calvin Barnett, Shaun Lewis, Daytawion Lowe, Caleb Lavey, Tyler Johnson and Shamiel Gary.
Not all of the replacements are strangers. Sophomore safeties Deric Robertson and Jordan Sterns, sophomore linebacker Seth Jacobs and junior linebacker Kris Catlin are but a few ready to make their introductions.
It’s been a struggle at times for the defense, but progress at this stage must be measured incrementally.
“Every day, we get better in the back seven,” said tackle James Castleman, one of four returning starters. “I watch them on film and I see them get faster. They may make a mistake one day, but the next day they have it fixed. Every day they’re getting better.”
Backfield In Motion
Desmond Roland is sitting out the spring following offseason shoulder surgery, creating opportunity – and competition – for a piece of the running back pie.
Hill has already secured a slice, although he figures to get time at receiver, too.
For Rennie Childs, Corion Webster, Devon Thomas and Caleb Muncrief, this is the time to state their case.