The Oklahoma State football team debuted their new offense under offensive coordinator Todd Monken during Saturday's annual Orange - White game. The only thing is that it's not really new, at least to the Cowboy players that were around last season. “There was a lot of excitement, a lot of big plays on both sides of the football,” head coach Mike Gundy said. “The offense looks very similar to what you saw last year.”
From most accounts, the offense looked exactly the same as it did a year ago when the Cowboys averaged over 44 points a game. And for those hoping to catch a glimpse of what Monken will do as a play caller, they'll have to wait until September 3rd when OSU takes on Louisiana-Lafayette. During Saturday's scrimmage, inside receivers coach, Doug Meacham, and graduate assistant, Steven Parker called the plays.
The usual suspects had big days as you might have guessed. Brandon Weeden was 20 of 37 passing for 240 yards and three touchdowns. Justin Blackmon hauled in eight passes for 87 yards and a touchdown playing for the team opposite of Weeden. Running back Joseph Randle had 39 yards rushing and also caught six passes out of the backfield.
One question the Cowboys hoped to have answered during the spring is who would back up Weeden at the quarterback position should he go down. Clint Chelf was in that role last season and it appears he'll have the spot locked down again in 2011. He has been competing this spring with sophomore, Johnny Deaton, and true freshman, J.W. Walsh. Chelf had a good day on Saturday completing 20 of 31 passes and two touchdowns. "Whoever plays, (fans) are going to expect you to win, so that's our expectation. And if (quarterbacks) went down and Johnny had to go play or J.W., then we've got to find a way to win with them," Monken said on Saturday.
Another positive development for the Cowboys is the growth of a couple wide receivers to line up on the field opposite of Blackmon. He didn't play on Saturday, but according to Brandon Chatman of the Oklahoman, sophomore Michael Harrison was having a great spring before he injured his foot. He's expected back for the start of fall camp. Last season, he caught just 14 passes, but in an offense such as OSU's, that number could dramatically increase this season. Just ask Blackmon how that goes.
Senior wide receiver, Hubert Anyiam, is another guy who could be in for a reemergence this fall. He struggled with injuries throughout 2010 after catching 42 balls in 2009, but has looked great this spring.
If I had to pick a guy who most aren't talking about right now for OSU, Anyiam would be my guy. (Back track 12 months, and most would have guessed it would have been Anyiam that would have been the Cowboys go-to guy, not Blackmon). It's obvious teams are going to do whatever it takes to slow down Blackmon, which could allow a talented guy like Anyiam to get a lot of one-on-one matchups on the other side.
There wasn't a lot of defense being played in Stillwater during Saturday's scrimmage with the offenses combing for 870 yards, but on the positive side, the Pokes defense did come up with eight turnovers (and not good if you're the offense, but so goes spring football).
There's been quite a battle this spring to replace Orie Lemon at middle linebacker and both the candidates looked the part on Saturday. Playing on opposite teams, Caleb Levey led the Orange with eight tackles and his competition, Tyler Johnson, tied for the White team's lead with six stops.
Finally, you can't forget about sophomore, Justin Gilbert, who didn't disappoint this weekend. Just as he did twice a season ago, Gilbert took a kickoff to the house, taking the opening kickoff of the second half back for six points. He's also made big strides at the cornerback position and should be one of the staples of the Cowboys defense in 2011. In the pass happy Big 12, you can never underestimate the value of a good cornerback.
Overall, the Cowboys trigger man is happy with where the team is after 15 practices. “We are leaps and bounds ahead of last year,” Weeden said. “We're operating fast, everyone knows what they have to do, we're really playing well and understand what we have to do." That's a great thing for the Cowboys, but probably not for the defenses who find Oklahoma State on their schedule next season.
Here's the post game intereview with offensive coordinator, Todd Monken. Seems like a good dude, and he likes Golden Tee which is never a bad thing.