The excitement of last year's flag football-like spring finale didn't show up today, as the defense stole the show for the first time in awhile in Boone Pickens Stadium.
The Orange team, headed by quarterback Clint Chelf, won by a score of 17-7 over J.W. Walsh's White team after the team's were tied at 7 apiece at halftime.
Chelf led the quarterbacks in passing, completing 17 of his 34 passes for 204 yards and a touchdown, but he and his team's backup Daxx Garman were sacked five times. Walsh and Wes Lunt both cleared 120 yards through the air for the opposite team.
The running game had a miserable showing, with starter and backup Jeremy Smith and Desmond Roland combined for 36 yards on 13 carries. They also mustered up just five first downs on the ground.
Let's dive into it a little deeper, as spring practices have officially come to an end, and we finally got a sneak peek at the 2013 Oklahoma State Cowboys.
Spring's biggest winners: Defensive Coordinator Glenn Spencer: His unit held one of the nation's best offenses in 2012 to just over 500 total yards, and that's not bad given the offense was on the field the entire game. At one point he had his deepest guy, usually his free safety, just seven yards off the ball. The days of seven to ten-yard cushions on receivers look to be over in Stillwater.
Cornerback Justin Gilbert: Gilbert had a bad season last year by both his and Mike Gundy's accounts last season, but he seemed a lot more comfortable in the new, aggressive style of play the Cowboys have on defense. He had two interceptions in the game, his first and second turnover since January 2, 2012, when the Cowboys were playing Stanford in the Fiesta Bowl. It doesn't count, but if it's a sign of things to come then opponents will have a tough time against him.
WR Blake Jackson: Jackson struggled with his hands last season, and was plagued by drops throughout the year. He said he spent the offseason and spring catching more tennis balls "than I could count", and said that was his main focus throughout the down time. It showed today as he finished with 5 receptions on 6 targets for 34 yards.
DE Jimmy Bean: Bean was held out last year after suffering an injury early in the season. He's a freak (listed at 6'5), but coaches were worried about his skinny frame out of high school. Now that he's had another offseason under his belt, Bean dominated against the first-unit offensive line, getting two sacks and a fumble recovery for the white team.
They are what we thought they were WR Josh Stewart: It was only right that the first pass of the game went to Stewart. He dominated defenses last year as the go-to guy for whoever played quarterback that week, and was solid again today with 3 receptions for 40 yards and a touchdown.
WR Tracy Moore: 7 receptions for 79 yards is about what we expect from the senior. His routes looked good, as he's made noticeable improvements on his ability to get off the press and find openings in the defensive slots. He also looks like he added more speed to his game as well, which can do nothing but help him when the season rolls around.
DT Calvin Barnett: The man in the middle was solid as usual, and can only prosper in the ultra-aggressive defense that Spencer has in place. It'd be crazy not to expect a big season from him this fall.
QB Clint Chelf: He had a so-so stat line, and his receivers and offensive line didn't exactly help him out a ton. The thing with him is that he commands the offense, and while he may not be the most spectacular athlete on the field he's capable of scoring points efficiently. It was tough today, as players were rotated in and out, but if Chelf is the starter in this season's opener, he's a solid guy to have playing.
Cause for concern Kicker: No one can replace Quinn Sharp and his productivity the last couple of years, but you can try to get close. As of right now, OSU is on the trail, but they're a ways off. Bobby Stonebraker went 2/3 on field goals, missing his first attempt of the game. The special teams had two kickoffs, and neither were touchbacks, but Kip Smith had a good showing in the punting game, booting 5 for 41.6 yards per punt. Keep an eye on it, as this component of the team is more important than people credit it for.
Offensive line: They were porous and seemed overwhelmed at times, and that showed in the running game (96 rushing yards) and sacks given up (10 total sacks). The first unit finally started to turn it around after awhile, and the OSU defense is probably one of the best front-seven's they'll face all year. But overall, it wasn't a great showing for the big men up front.
Charlie Moore: Moore has been emerging as one of the best receivers on OSU's roster since the last spring game, but today he couldn't get free of the tight coverage, mostly by CB Ashton Lampkin. Maybe it was an off day, or maybe he's struggling a bit. It's tough to tell with this being our only time to see the team. It's still something to keep an eye on through the summer, though.
The offense: New OC Mike Yurcich took over, and once a lot of people figured out who he was, they were excited about what he brought to the table. His offense is built around speed, and quite a few times his unit was snapping the ball with 35+ seconds remaining on the play clock. But overall, the offense seemed a bit out of sync. It doesn't really fit under this section, as I wouldn't be too concerned about it given how well the defense played today, but it's worth nothing that it wasn't the high-octane attack we're used to seeing. A note to go along with that is Mike Gundy saying in his postgame press conference that the offense was "pretty vanilla" today, so that could've played a factor as well.
Oklahoma State has finished up their spring practices, and will head to summer workouts after they finish up finals next week. Their season will kick off on August 31st against Missippi State in Houston.