Defense Shines In OSU's Spring Football Finale - WSET.com - ABC13

Defense Shines In OSU's Spring Football Finale

Posted: Updated:
DB Justin Gilbert intercepts a pass from QB J.W. Walsh DB Justin Gilbert intercepts a pass from QB J.W. Walsh

Linebacker Caleb Lavey intercepted a pass and returned it 52 yards for a touchdown with 1:06 left in the game to seal the Orange Team’s 17-7 win over the White team in front of a crowd of 15,000 at Oklahoma State’s spring finale Saturday in Boone Pickens Stadium.

Lavey’s Orange teammate, cornerback Justin Gilbert, turned in a performance Saturday that was indicative of his spring as a whole, picking off two passes and returning one for 64 yards and the other for 44 yards.

Gilbert was one of the most talked-about Cowboys during spring drills after returning to OSU for his senior season rather than declaring for the NFL Draft and he didn’t disappoint, becoming a central figure associated with Oklahoma State’s more aggressive defensive philosophy under first-year coordinator Glenn Spencer.

"Justin played very average last year, and he would be the first to admit that,” Coach Mike Gundy said. “He's certainly very talented, and he was in position to make plays today, and that's what he needs to do for us. He needs to be a guy who has several interceptions and runs the ball back. As fast he as he is, if he's in the right area, he can get the ball off a tip--and that's what he did today. He played very well.”

Another key storyline surrounding the Cowboys during the spring was if OSU was going to be able to generate a pass rush after having last year’s two-deep at defensive end decimated by graduation. The Orange defense and the White defense combined for eight sacks (four apiece) and 11 tackles for loss (seven for the White and four for the Orange) in the spring finale.

Leading the way up front was defensive end Jimmy Bean, who registered two sacks and a fumble recovery for the White team and fellow White defensive end Taylor May, who finished with two tackles for loss, a sack, a forced fumble and a quarterback hurry.

It should be noted that first-year offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich utilized only a small fraction of the playbook in his playcalling selections.

"We were very vanilla with what we were doing on offense for two reasons. First, because we believe that's what's best for Oklahoma State football right now, and second, because with our style of play, guys were out there who haven't played much,” Gundy said. “We just couldn't run as many plays and schemes as we would on any given day."

Orange quarterback Clint Chelf completed 17-of-34 passes for 204 yards and a touchdown with no interceptions and White quarterbacks Wes Lunt and J.W. Walsh split the reps evenly, with Lunt completing 15-of-27 passes for 122 yards with no touchdowns and an interception and Walsh completing 13-of-23 passes for 123 yards with one touchdown and one interception.

Playing only a limited number of reps in the spring finale was running back Jeremy Smith, who carried the ball six times for two yards. Desmond Roland, his primary backup, carried the ball only seven times for 28 yards. Smith will be called upon in the fall to fill the running back spot vacated by Joseph Randle’s departure to the NFL, with Roland moving a second-team role that will put him in position to be a key part of the offense for the first time in his career.

"I think our run game is going to be fine,” Gundy said. “It's all based on how a defense wants to defend us. We're going to rush the football and we're going to throw it. We're not going to change what we do. Obviously, Jeremy [Smith] has to be the guy now, and Desmond [Roland] backs him up. We've got some other kids coming in who will compete - we've always played our freshmen running backs - so depending on how people play us, that will tell us how much we're going to run the football."

That said, there’s no question that the defense held the advantage in the spring finale.

"I enjoyed it,” Gundy said of the defense controlling the action. “I know the crowd here is not used to it. We dropped some passes on offense that contributed to it, but I'm really excited about the play we're getting on defense. In the long run, we're going to move the ball and score a lot of points here, because that's what we do and who we are, but if we want to consistently compete for a championship, we have to play better on defense. I'm excited about our group, I think their attitude is different and I think they have a chance to be better this season.

The Cowboys open the season Aug. 31 when they battle Mississippi State at Reliant Stadium in Houston.

Oklahoma State Spring Finale Scoring Plays

First Quarter – 10:08 – White – Blake Webb, 24 yd pass from J.W. Walsh (K. Smith kick)

Second Quarter – 9:56 – Orange – Josh Stewart 30 yd pass from Clint Chelf (Stonebraker kick)

Third Quarter – 10:00 – Orange – Bobby Stonebraker, 29 yd field goal

Fourth Quarter – 1:06 – Orange – Caleb Lavey 52 yd interception return (Stonebraker kick)

Spring Finale Post-Game Quotes

Head Coach Mike Gundy

On the quarterback play

"I think they did fine. It makes it tougher when you split the teams like we did. We normally run sets with three and four wide receivers, so when you split the teams and try to run those same sets, we didn't have the depth to do it. We were a little more vanilla with our offense than what we would be. The defensive line got great pressure. We dropped some passes that we should have caught, but other than that, I thought the kids had a good day."

On Justin Gilbert's performance

"Well, Justin played very average last year, and he would be the first to admit that. He's certainly very talented, and he was in position to make plays today, and that's what he needs to do for us. He needs to be a guy who has several interceptions and runs the ball back. As fast he as he is, if he's in the right area, he can get the ball off a tip--and that's what he did today. He played very well.”

On the formation featuring two quarterbacks on the field simultaneously

"Those guys come up with some plays for the spring game, and that was the first time I had seen that myself. They had a lot of fun with it. It was a great day to get out there and play some football."

On the pace of the offense

"Our pace is going to be quick. Our tempo is going to be fast, if not faster than it ever has been, but there are some limitations when you split teams as far as your offensive tempo. They can run some up-tempo, but we had just enough offensive linemen to make two teams. So, you don't have a whole lot of depth there and it keeps us from moving as fast as we want, but our tempo this spring has been really good."

On whether the split teams affected the run game

"I think our run game is going to be fine. It's all based on how a defense wants to defend us. We're going to rush the football and we're going to throw it. We're not going to change what we do. Obviously, Jeremy [Smith] has to be the guy now, and Desmond [Roland] backs him up. We've got some other kids coming in who will compete - we've always played our freshmen running backs - so depending on how people play us, that will tell us how much we're going to run the football."

On the depth chart at quarterback

"We've got our guys in the position where we want them, and they're all working hard and having really good springs. All three are better. We're fortunate to have three, and we'll continue working with them in the way we feel gives us the best chance for success until the first game. We really won't talk about the quarterback situation from this point on. There's really no reason to talk about what our quarterback situation is. We've been very open about it through the spring, but I don't know if there's anything else we can say other than we're fortunate to have three that are really good."

On how much of the playbook was used

"We were very vanilla with what we were doing on offense for two reasons. First, because we believe that's what's best for Oklahoma State football right now, and second, because with our style of play, guys were out there who haven't played much. We just couldn't run as many plays and schemes as we would on any given day."

On the defense controlling the game

"I enjoyed it. I know the crowd here is not used to it. We dropped some passes on offense that contributed to it, but I'm really excited about the play we're getting on defense. In the long run, we're going to move the ball and score a lot of points here, because that's what we do and who we are, but if we want to consistently compete for a championship, we have to play better on defense. I'm excited about our group, I think their attitude is different and I think they have a chance to be better this season.”

Cornerback Justin Gilbert

On his performance

“I think I did pretty well today. I’m taking what I’ve been doing all spring on and off the field and just bringing it out to showcase it. I’m consistently coming out each practice and not taking any plays off. Each ball that’s in the air, I go up and get it.”

On his improvement

“I’m not looking back and not getting down on myself. I’ve got tunnel vision and looking straight forward. When one play is over, you have to bounce to the next one.”

On his interceptions

“I was just running to the ball and finishing plays. Coach Spencer emphasizes most on getting to the ball and making plays, and mainly finishing plays as a defense. You always have to show effort.”

Linebacker Caleb Lavey

On the defense

“It’s good to have fewer points on the board. The last couple spring games, it’s been high scoring. This year, we were a little more aggressive, and it ended up keeping the scores lower, which is good.”

On Justin Gilbert

“He just makes plays. He was moving around, and he’s healthy. He’s going to be a huge asset in the fall for us. Him playing well was a good sign.”

On the potential of the defense

“We have really good potential. We just have to keep each other accountable. The plan we had going into the spring has really worked out. As long as we keep working, keep each other accountable and stay healthy, we should have a pretty good offense.”

On his touchdown

“I’ve never felt it before. It was good. I felt pretty tired afterward, though. Who knew 50 yards could seem so long?”

Receiver Josh Stewart

On the secondary

“It’s always a battle between us and the secondary. They’re always working hard to stop us and we’re always working hard to complete routes. There are good wars with the secondary and the receivers.”

On the low scoring game

“Defense was playing well today. There was some stuff that we could’ve done better to score. Other than that, the defense was pretty solid. They were a lot more physical, and they flew to the ball. That’s all you need in a defense.”

Receiver Blake Jackson

On his performance

“It’s a pleasure to show the fans that I’m better than I was last year, and really getting to come out here and show how hard I’ve been working. It was definitely a fun time for me. The hard work won’t stop.”

On his consistency through the spring

“Today was definitely a consistent theme of the spring. In the fall, I had my good plays and bad plays. I feel like I can be a better player before we get to August 31. I think that was definitely a taste of who Blake Jackson is as a player.”

On his confidence level

“It really prepares me to get ready for this grind, and it shows me that the hard work pays off. I’m really excited to pay everybody back for the ups and downs I had last year.”

On what helped him improve

“I think it was just building my mental toughness and telling myself I am ready. Obviously, repetition and persistence had something to do with it. I was catching tennis balls on off days and just making sure I was always catching something to build my confidence.”

Most Popular

Stories
Videos
loading...
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 WorldNow and WSET. All Rights Reserved.
For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.