The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Sports

April 20, 2013

OSU defense sharp in spring game

STILLWATER, Okla. — Oklahoma State cornerback Justin Gilbert hasn’t been shy about his expectations for an apparently faster, meaner defense under new coordinator Glenn Spencer.

On Saturday, he showed why.

In his first public game since a disappointing junior season that ended without an interception, the senior picked off two passes and deflected another in the Cowboys’ final spring scrimmage in a display the team’s fans aren’t used to seeing.

The Orange and White teams, the squads for the free-to-the public scrimmage at Boone Pickens Stadium, combined for 24 points — seven of them on an interception that linebacker Caleb Lavey returned for a touchdown to seal a 17-7 Orange win — and surrendered 10 combined sacks in a rare defensive duel.

Oklahoma State’s 80th-ranked defense allowed 28.2 points a game last season, but in front of 15,000 on Saturday, the Orange and White units held their counterparts from last season’s third-ranked offense (45.7 ppg) to 507 yards of combined offense, only 14 on the ground, and forced four turnovers.

Sophomore defensive ends Jimmy Bean and Taylor May paced a pass rush that enters 2013 without the 6.5 sacks combined from Nigel Nicholas (4) and Ryan Robinson (2.5).

Bean tallied two sacks and recovered a fumble that was forced by May, who had one sack and a tackle for loss. Tyler Johnson, who tied for the team lead with four sacks last season, did not play.

“Knowing that we’re an offensive team, coming into this game, we had a lot to prove,” said Gilbert, who also had four tackles. “We’ve never really proved anything with the defense we have now, so we wanted to show the world what we can do, what we’ve been working on all spring.”

“(The defense is) a lot more physical,” said receiver Josh Stewart, the Big 12’s leading returner after 101 catches and 1,210 yards last season. “They’re ball hawks. They fly to the ball.”

The effort wasn’t completely suffocating — OSU receivers unofficially dropped five passes, and Clint Chelf of Enid misfired on what likely would have been a long touchdown pass to Stewart, overthrowing his target by less than a step.

The offensive playcalling, save for a double-throwback pass with quarterbacks Wes Lunt and J.W. Walsh on the field at once — a call the players drew up themselves — wasn’t close regular-season complexity, ninth-year head coach Mike Gundy said, and the pace also was well off what was set during practice, despite several snaps coming within five seconds of the play clock starting.

“In practice, man, you don’t even know how fast we go,” said Stewart, who caught three passes for 40 yards including a 30-yard touchdown. “We were just showing a little sample of how our offense is ran, but other than that, it was nowhere near the speed we usually run it.”

“I was actually happy we were going so slow,” said Tracy Moore, who led all receivers with seven catches for 79 yards. “And I still couldn’t breathe. I was tired ... In practice, I don’t even know if the play clock starts before we snap the ball.”

Oklahoma State opens its regular season Aug. 31 against Mississippi State at Boone Pickens Stadium.

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