That was an idea instituted last spring where the offense runs 10 plays off cards of any style of offense, usually a power-I or pro set, so the defense can get full speed work against an offense other than spread.
Thursday's practice was enthusiastic and came off a Wednesday workout that several coaches said was really sharp for this stage of the spring. The enthusiasm could have been derived by the fact that the Cowboys now have a 12-day break before spring practice resumes following spring break. The next practice will be on Tuesday, March 22.
There is no doubt the offense is ahead of the defense thus far in spring practice but that is expected.
Defensive coordinator Bill Young has all new defensive tackles, and pups at middle linebacker and weakside backer. Todd Monken may be new but he is orchestrating a veteran offense starting with quarterback Brandon Weeden, and both Randle and Smith, who are replacing Kendall Hunter, have played a bunch.
"I'm very comfortable so far with where we are on offense and where Coach Monken is at," said Cowboys head coach Mike Gundy. "He's been up here in the evenings and spent quality time with the players and coaches.
"I didn't see anything this week different than what we did last year in spring ball. I thought we were very smooth. I think we will be very good on offense. It really comes down to the players, and we are fortunate that we have returning guys that know what is going on."
We mentioned the running game looked sharp in both the inside drill and during the team period. Randle and Smith are really good looking physically with coordinator for strength and conditioning Rob Glass needing to take a short bow for that. The performance matches up.
"Joseph has been a good player from day one and Jeremy has really matured in the last six months," said Gundy of the running backs situation.
"I think they are both good running backs, both have good hands, and both have protected well. They are competitive and those two guys ought to share the duties. We'll need another one to step up and give them a break throughout the season next year, but I am comfortable that those two guys will be quality running backs chores in our offense."
Joining Randle and Smith and fellow fullbacks David Paulsen and walk-on Grant Goodwin is Kye Staley. That is right, you knew from Go Pokes reports prior to spring that Staley went back into offseason after serving as a student coach last season. He has never quit working and went to Gundy and asked if he could give it another go, moving from running back to fullback. Staley is 5-10, 215 pounds.
"He wanted to be in offseason (workouts)," explained Gundy. "Kye is a special young man and he wanted to be around the team and he loves football.
"He had a very dramatic injury (torn ACL, MCL, and PCL) and he's working his way back. He came back months ago and asked if he could be around the team and workout. He was doing well and he asked if he could be out from spring ball."
Staley volunteers for anything and everything. He soaks up as much work as he can and when in the open field has shown a little of that burst he was famous for as an All-State and Blue Chip runner at Guthrie.
"He does look good and I would like for nothing more than he holds up and competes because he really wants to play," said Gundy.
Another player back, in fact an old rival of Staley's, is on the defensive side of the ball. Former Carl Albert High School standout Daytawion Lowe was injured (shoulder) and out for the season before practice even started last August. Now he is back.
"Ahh man, it was fun and exciting," said Lowe, who is now 6-0, 188. "I missed it a lot."
"Daytawion had a tough year and he fought back," said Gundy. "They did a good job with him in the training room and our medical staff has him back full speed. I know he is excited to be back and I enjoy watching him out there.
"He brings a certain level of enthusiasm to us. He came from a great program where they won a lot of games and so it is good to have him back out there. I would expect for him to compete for a starting job. I would think Johnny (Thomas) and Markelle (Martin) would be glad to have him out there to keep there reps down. They had to play so many plays last year in the games. Daytawion should be able to help those guys out."
Lowe played a lot as a freshman and his fellow defenders are happy to get him back on the practice field.
"Daytawion, we really missed having him out there and he is a really good player," said defensive coordinator Bill Young. "He will be a starter for us in our speed or nickel package."
Three days in and so far spring football is a success, but that is just one-fifth of the way home and there's till a lot of ball left to go before the Orange-White game at 2 p.m. on Saturday, April 16. Enjoy your spring break!