Oklahoma State held its spring game on Saturday with the black squad, featuring several defensive starters, topping the orange team, led by several offensive starters, 23-7. Here’s what we learned during the Cowboys' annual spring finale.
1. The offensive line still needs work: Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy remains encouraged about the progress of the Cowboys' offensive front, stating that his squad has seven guys -- including junior college transfers Marcus Keyes and Larry Williams -- they can count on up front. Yet the offense managed 43 carries for 70 yards, just 1.62 yards per carry.
“They’re better,” Gundy said. “They have a long way to go, but we’re improved.”
2. Running back remains wide open: Senior Chris Carson has been praised for his work for much of the spring, but didn’t separate himself in limited action during the spring game with six carries for 12 yards. Rennie Childs led all running backs with eight carries for 38 yards. Barry J. Sanders, the Stanford graduate transfer who is set to arrive in the summer, could end up being the answer alongside starting quarterback Mason Rudolph with a pair of freshmen (Justice Hill, L.D. Brown) also set to arrive with plenty of opportunity to make an early mark on the program.
3. Defensive losses shouldn’t result in weak links in the unit: Defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah and cornerback Kevin Peterson, Oklahoma State’s lone All-Big 12 first team defenders, are NFL-bound, leaving a void in the defense. If the spring game is any indication, that void won’t result in a weak link in the unit. Cornerback Ramon Richards was solid throughout the spring and seems set to have an increased role, while four sophomore defensive ends have shown plenty of promise. Trey Carter had three sacks in the spring game, with Cole Walterscheid and Jordan Brailford adding one piece. Yet Jarrell Owens was as impressive as any of the other three defensive ends with two quarterback hurries and constant pressure into the backfield.
4. The backup quarterback spot could go to a walk-on: Heading into the spring it was easy to assume former ESPN 300 quarterback John Kolar would serve as Rudolph’s backup at quarterback. But walk-on Taylor Cornelius had other ideas, emerging from the spring game as one of the stars with a game-high 192 passing yards and two touchdowns, including a 71-yard connection for Jhajuan Seales on the first offensive play of the scrimmage.
“We haven’t decided yet [who it will be],” Gundy said when asked if Cornelius had solidified the No. 2 spot. “Throughout the spring, John and Taylor have both played well. We’ve had scrimmages where John rushed for close to 100 yards.”
Kolar was 1-of-8 for 15 yards and one interception. Gundy hopes to finalize a No. 2 quarterback by the second week in August so his team can focus on preparing two quarterbacks to play instead of three.
5. The Cowboys have two quality kickers: With Ben Grogan sidelined, kicker Matt Ammendola may have been the star of the spring game. He buried a 50-yard field goal with ease while also connecting on attempts from 40 and 32 yards. Grogan was one of several Cowboys starters who sat out the game with minor injuries. Ammendola, a walk-on, took advantage by showing a strong, accurate leg in Grogan’s place.
“He’s kicking very well and he has a strong leg,” Gundy said. “He had a good day today, he has a very powerful leg.”