The Oklahoma State football team held the Orange Blitz Saturday afternoon at Boone Pickens Stadium. Dressed in full pads, the Cowboys practiced for approximately two hours with their 11th practice of spring ball open to the public.
The event included live interviews with coach Mike Gundy and former players Josh Fields, Russell Okung and Shamiel Gary, as well as recorded interviews with both coordinators and quarterback J.W. Walsh. The team went through a stretch period, several position drills and a team period that included a scrimmage. In addition to watching the team practice, fans in attendance were also treated with an opportunity to get autographs and interact with the team on the field.
After the event, coach Mike Gundy and selected members of the team shared their thoughts:
Coach Mike Gundy
"We had a good practice. The tempo is about what we expected. We slowed it down a little bit during the team period because we had a couple linebackers get banged up this week, which really left us with one and a half linebackers at each position. Other than that, we got some quality work done, and the fans got to see the quarterbacks throw. Tyreek Hill was out there, too. Overall, it was good for us. I'm looking forward to next week's practices. It was great to have former Cowboys out here like Josh Fields and Russell Okung, who is now a Super Bowl champion. It was a good day, but now we get back to the videotape and get back to work on Monday."
On the progression of the quarterbacks
"I think we're fine at the quarterback position. J.W. [Walsh] is coming along well and we've seen him for a number of years, and Mason [Rudolph] is doing well – he's a high school kid out there running around and playing. Daxx [Garman] is doing well and [Jake] Hubenak is doing fine. We're really inexperienced on the offensive line, especially at the twos. We just don't have much depth. We have two starters who aren't out there with us. For that reason, when the twos are out there, it can be tough on a quarterback. Those five guys are giving us everything, but they've never played at this level. It's not easy for those guys to function, but they're coming along well. We're making some strides."
On today's format compared to a traditional spring game
"For what we needed, I think it was exactly what we should have done. We would all like to have a spring game. Years ago, I was the guy trying to promote spring games. However, I also have to look at what is best for the team and our fans. For example, we only had one linebacker at two different positions today, which would have made it tough to have an orange team and a white team. We would have had guys switching jerseys after each series, and to me, that's not as effective or fun for the crowd, because we would have been limited to a small number of formations and sets on both sides of the football. There just weren't enough bodies for both teams. I think the way we did it today was better, given the circumstances. Every so often, when we have a big senior class leave – which I don't have a problem with a big senior class – we may have to do something like this."
On Blake Webb's performance this spring
"He's had a good spring. Both he and Austin [Hays] were set back by injuries, but they've had a good offseason, come back well and made some plays for us."
On where he believes the team has good depth
"Our defensive line and wide receivers are the deepest positions we have. They're the most experienced. I think we will be better on the defensive line this coming year than we were last year, that's just my personal opinion. I believe the same thing when it comes to our wideouts. Of course they have to stay healthy and have a good work ethic, which are always important, but the maturity we have at those positions at this point is what you would have in a normal year that didn't feature 28 seniors leaving. Those positions are in great shape. Elsewhere, we're still developing young players."
On Tyreek Hill playing in the backfield
"We've worked him on the outside, where we split him out and throw to him, and over the last week or so we've put him in the backfield. We need to make a decision in the early part of August or so about where we want to play him. Part of it is how he develops and adjusts to the physicality of playing at this level. We also need to examine the best ways to get him the football. We need to be able to get him a good volume of touches, similar to what we did with Josh Stewart. When we didn't get Josh many touches in a game, I didn't feel good about our plan, as a coach. If we move him around, maybe we have a better chance of getting him the necessary touches to help our offense."
On how the group of running backs looks
"They're still young. There's a pattern and path you take if you want to play running back. You have to take hits, get sore, be tired and keep taking hits while taking care of the football. Rennie Childs is about halfway through that process. Desmond Roland wasn't out there with us. He's in good enough condition and good enough shape to play, but we aren't going to let him at this point. He should still carry most of the load, but we need guys like Rennie, Tyreek and others to step up in that position. We need those guys to carry the load like Jeremy Smith did last fall. I would be careful to extend myself too much, but I think we'll also be better at that position than we were last year."
Cornerback Ashton Lampkin
On practice today
"It was pretty good. We got to compete a little bit with those offensive guys, which is something we do every day. Day in and day out we come out here and compete and I felt good about it."
On the spring overall
"Spring practices we kind of struggled in the beginning, but now we're building up our relationships with our teammates and coming along together. We have a lot of young guys and guys that have to step up and I feel like everyone is coming together as one."
On his interception during the scrimmage
"It was an out-route and we were in man coverage. He ran an out-route and tipped the ball, that's where I came up on the ball and got the interception."
On who has stepped up this spring
"There's a lot of guys that have stepped up. I believe Seth Jacobs has stepped up a lot, he's coming in to his own. He didn't play a lot his freshman year, he redshirted and didn't play a lot last year. He's come in and done what the coaches have asked of him. Tre Flowers and Jordan Sterns and Darius Curry, those guys are stepping up and becoming players for this team."
Offensive Lineman Daniel Koenig
On practice today
"Today was a good day. It was not one of our better days. We've had better. Our offense clicks at some points and sometimes we don't. We're working on it. We're getting those guys out there that need to play. We have guys that are stepping up who need to keep moving forward. If we do that, things will happen."
Receiver Blake Webb
On practice today
"It's just a great day to play football. The quarterbacks were throwing the ball well and the receivers were running great routes. It was just a great day to be out here."
On J.W. Walsh
"J.W. has been throwing the ball great. Anytime he gets a chance to throw it deep, I love going deep. We connected a couple times and it was a great day."
On being back healthy after last season
"It's amazing, it just feels great to play football again. It was a frustrating year and now that I'm 100 percent, I'm ready for the upcoming year."
On the receiving corps
"We're all very fast, physical guys. With Jhajuan Seales coming back, he has the potential to be an All-Big 12 guy. I think we're going to be lighting it up. I'm excited."
Linebacker Ryan Simmons
On the development of the defense
"We're all still learning. We're coming together as a defense. I'm seeing a lot of progress from every practice."
On developing camaraderie with new members
"As far as going out and just running the plays, that's the same level as last year. Guys haven't really made a name for themselves yet. People are going to want to be out there, but as far as knowing each other, knowing the plays and being on the same bench, it's going to take some time."
On getting a good pass rush this spring
"We have a lot of guys on the defense and the defensive line who are pretty experienced. They are going to do some good things for us this year. There are a lot of guys with really good size who can move and put good pressure on the quarterback."