STILLWATER — The Oklahoma State athletic department has called it a spring “finale” for more than a month.
Cowboys' safeties coach Van Malone called it the “Orange Blitz” on Twitter on Wednesday.
Of course, the common term for what they are describing is the traditional spring “game,” which will mark the end of spring football practice for the Cowboys. But the reluctance for those inside the program to just flat-out call Saturday's event a spring game has raised questions about what exactly fans will pay $5 to see at Boone Pickens Stadium on Saturday. And as late as Wednesday, even coach Mike Gundy was still unsure about all the details.
Turns out the format won't be anything too out of the ordinary.
The Cowboys will be divided into two teams, where the first-team offense will go up against the second-team defense and the second-team offense will go up against the first-team defense in a 75-play scrimmage. Offensive coordinator Todd Monken will call plays for both sides, and quarterbacks Clint Chelf, J.W. Walsh and Wes Lunt and running backs Herschel Sims and Desmond Roland will play for both teams. The rest of the assistant coaches will be split between the two teams, and Gundy will direct the scrimmage from the middle of the field.
“At one point, we thought about whether we just wanted to scrimmage (all offense vs. all defense), based on trying to get some sort of a rotation with the quarterbacks,” Gundy said. “We're going to end up just splitting it up. We'll have a game, and some of it will be a running clock and so on and so forth.”
Just don't dare call it the Orange-White game — because one team will wear orange and one team will wear gray.
The biggest difference between OSU's game and the typical spring game, however, is that it will be a “thud” scrimmage, meaning there will be no tackling all the way to the ground.
That is consistent with Gundy's broader practice philosophy that began during fall camp last season. The Cowboys didn't tackle during any scrimmages during the preseason and had a lighter practice schedule during the season.
That strategy led to a 12-1 record, Big 12 championship and Fiesta Bowl victory in 2011. So OSU followed the same model this spring, with no full-blown tackling during its three scrimmages so far.
“I can't see myself ever really going back and scrimmaging (with tackling), but never say never,” Gundy said. “I'm happy with the way things are going right now.”
The absence of tackling has actually allowed OSU to scrimmage more than in previous springs. But the main reason behind the philosophy is to keep players fresh, both physically and mentally, and prevent injuries.
Last season, no Cowboy that played regularly was seriously injured during a practice. Devin Hedgepeth (Achilles), Hubert Anyiam (foot), Jonathan Rush (knee) and Deion Imade (knee) all suffered season-ending injures, but they all happened during games.
This spring, cornerback Andrae May tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his knee during a half-speed drill, but receiver David Glidden (high ankle sprain) is the only Cowboy to get hurt during the contact portion of practice.
“That was it. One guy,” Gundy said. “For me, I feel good about that. You always worry about losing a guy in the spring, because you're not getting ready to play a game.
“You've got to play full speed — they have to learn to play the game — but I've just been around so many guys that unfortunately got hurt in the spring. It just wears on you as a coach, so I'm real happy with the health of our football team going into the game (Saturday).”
Saturday will be filled with plenty of OSU-related activities in Stillwater. The Remember the 10 run starts at 9 a.m. Admission to the spring football finale also includes a ticket to the Cowboys' baseball game against Texas Tech at 2 p.m. at Reynolds Stadium. There will also be a 30-minute meet and greet with football players following the scrimmage.
And even though there won't be as much hitting as in the past, one of Gundy's main goals is still to entertain the fans that will be seeing the Cowboys live for the first time since the Fiesta Bowl.
“This has always been a chance for the fans to come see the players,” Gundy said. “Most of our work is done. We want guys to get out there and run their plays. We want to compete…(but) you're kind of limited to what you can really accomplish.”
Saturday in Stillwater
There will be plenty of events for OSU fans in Stillwater on Saturday. Here's a rundown of the day's activities.
Remember the 10 Run
7:30-8:30 a.m. Race-day registration begins
9 a.m. Fun Run begins
9:20 a.m. 5K and 10K runs begin in waves
10:45 a.m. Awards ceremony
Spring Football Finale
12:30 p.m. Scrimmage begins
2 p.m. (approximately) 30-minute meet and greet with players
Baseball vs. Texas Tech
2 p.m. First pitch
*Admission to spring football finale includes ticket to baseball game
Women's Tennis vs. Texas A&M
2 p.m. Match begins