With the Spring game all wrapped up, there's plenty of waiting time from here to the start of the season. Us here at CRFF thought that it would be fun to start 2015 Chalk Talk a little early, giving a quick preview of some notable things that we saw in the Spring game. Here's some changes that you might notice when the start of the season rolls around:
Quarterback Run Game
One observation from the spring game was the use of the quarterback run. The QB run could be a heightened part of the offense for this upcoming season, and with J.W. Walsh in the specialty role and QB/HB athlete Todd Mays coming in, there is always the possibility of unique packages. Even freshman John Kolar contributed on the ground in the read game. Last season, we talked about how the Pokes used a variation of the traditional triple option for the first time since the Robinson era. While Mason Rudolph isn't a run-first quarterback per se, he has shown his ability on the ground. Additionally, thanks to Coach Glass and Co., he's now upwards of 230 lbs. If you thought he looked hard to bring down last season, wait 'till this one.
The real question that's on everyone's mind is how J.W. will be used this season, and to what extent. Will he have his own short yardage package? Will they use him in unique formations (e.g. wildcat, heavy, etc)? Will they go UL Monroe on us? His future usage is yet to be seen, but if they can get creative with a 300-pounder, they can do something with Walsh.
One thing that perceptive OSU fans will notice when watching the Spring game highlights is a slight cadence change. It appears that the Cowboy offense has changed to a clap count, a form of cadence that they have not used in the past. Instead of the traditional vocal cadence, the center receives the go by the sound of the quarterback clapping his hands together.
This type of cadence has become popular throughout college football thanks in part to Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer, who has on-again-off-again used it with the Buckeyes. Heck, he even includes it in his pre-game rituals.
Now, the skeptic would question the effectiveness of the cadence, since snapping the ball after one clap every play could get predictable. The beauty of the philosophy is, just like any other cadence, there are ways to keep the defense honest. The quarterback can mix up the timing by going on two or faking the clap motion, as to try and get watchful defenses to jump. There are many benefits to the cadence as well; for example, the noise cuts through the sound, which helps in noisy environments. It also keeps the center's head forward as opposed to looking between his legs for the signal, which can help the Cowboys considering that they are fairly young at the center position this year. While an offense's cadence doesn't exactly decide their success, it's still a tweak worth notice.
The Cowboy Backs
Coach Gundy has stated that the tight end/fullback position is here to stay for Oklahoma State, and he solidified that statement with the hiring of coach Jason McEndoo. This tight end/fullback hybrid, coined the Cowboy Back by the coaches, will play all over the field; they can be used as a "buck", a fullback, a tight end, an "H" back, you name it. The position should give the offense more flexibility both personnel and formation-wise, and with the emergence of players like Jeremy Seaton and Zac Veatch, the position can create match-up issues as well. Look for consistent production from this position group next season, whether it be blocking or hauling in catches.
Well, that's our preview - keep an eye out for this segment to start once again when football season starts. If you have any observations that you want to share, be sure to leave a comment. September 3rd can't come any sooner.