OSU Spring Football Notebook

Practices are closed but the first 15 minutes of practice was open to photographers. The three quarterbacks competing for the job are at various stages. Clint Chelf is the most confident it seems, and that's the way it should be with his experience. J.W. Walsh is also confident and has come a long way since last year.

Both are accurate and made good throws warming up Monday. Wes Lunt has the best range it would appear and has a strong arm. But you can tell, as expected, he is still feeling his way through the offense.

Daxx Garman is out and has a good arm, but after some health issues is likely going to be in a green jersey for awhile. He is also ineligible after transferring from Arizona.

On the offensive line it appears that Daniel Koenig and Parker Graham are both a little thicker and stronger. You can sure tell that Devin Davis is about 10 to 15 pound heavier as well.

Receivers Blake Jackson (240 pounds, according to Mike Gundy) and Torrance Carr certainly look the part with Jackson showing good speed and quickness. Jackson has that look -- the look of a Bowman or Bryant-type athlete. Carr is not as thick, but has explosion and can make grabs. I like David Glidden a lot. He's not very tall, but he is compact, stout, and moves well.

On defense, Cooper Bassett looks like he may have trimmed down some but kept a very strong frame. Tyler Johnson and Nigel Nicholas look good physically. Alex Elkins really benefitted from the winter offseason work with Rob Glass. Justin Gilbert is as good looking an athlete as you will find anywhere.

Body Language Important
Mike Gundy has always said that attitude and body language are two of the most important barometers for him with his football team. With so many leaders departing for the NFL or graduated heading into spring football 2012, he is really keeping an eye out for those two facets in practice.

With a battle set for this spring to decide who will succeed Brandon Weeden as quarterback on offense, the top two candidates in redshirt freshman J.W. Walsh and junior Clint Chelf are paying attention to that.

Chelf said it is a focus of his.

"My body language. Coach (Todd) Monken is always harping on me about that," explained Chelf. "I want to show the guys on this team that I can lead them. I know the offense, I'm smart, I'm athletic and I believe I can be the leader for this team. I just have to go out and show that."

Walsh considers leadership one of his strengths. The son of a high school head coach, Walsh played for his dad, John, at Denton Guyer and leadership was preached to him.

"Growing up my dad was always hard on me to make sure that I always did everything right, and so I would be that guy that everybody wanted to follow and be somebody that is respectable and a leader," explained Walsh. "Growing up and hearing it over and over and over again, I have it built in to who I am and into my system."

Both players seemed to do a good job of leading during the first practice on Monday, and both showed good body language, said Gundy.

But it's not just the quarterbacks. Middle linebacker Caleb Lavey pointed them out but said leadership is coming from a number of players. He was humble, so he did not include himself.

"Alex Elkins and Shaun Lewis are leaders," said Lavey. "Cooper Bassett has become one. Clint Chelf and J.W. Walsh are stepping into their roles. Justin Horton. We've had a lot of guys step up during this offseason."

Van Malone Really Active
Even his new players were wondering how the Cowboys newest assistant Van Malone would be at practice. Safety Daytawion Lowe said Malone had been really good in meetings, explaining concepts on the defense and the techniques and assignment for the safeties very clear and easy to understand.

Lowe said he was not sure what kind of coach that Malone would be on the practice field. It turns out the answer is active and very enthusiastic. Malone likes to show a lot of emotion on the practice field.

Gundy was impressed with Malone through the interview process and every day since he came on board coming over from the University of Tulsa.

"Van has been a good addition for us," said Gundy. "This will be the first opportunity for me to see him up close, but he's done a very good job. He's been in programs that have competed at this level.

"He's been at Tulsa and done a nice job for them, and he's got experience recruiting in the state of Texas. He'll pick up where Joe Deforest left off at the safety position. With special teams, we'll divide it up this spring and make those decisions at the end of spring of what we want to do in the fall."

Same Schedule as Last Year When It Comes to Hitting
Over the past year, dating back to last spring, the Cowboys have gone easy on tackling, using "thud" contact in practice and scrimmages with everything full speed and full contact but not tackling to the ground and no cut blocking.

It has helped in keeping players healthy and curtailing season threatening injuries. Gundy explained he would continue that philosophy this spring.

"We won't have a full scrimmage during the spring," said Gundy. "We'll continue with the plan we had last spring. I was comfortable with the way it worked, even though we have younger players.

"I believe we can have our two or three live practices, but I don't believe we have to tackle all the way to the ground and take shots on players either way, cuts or guys that are extended out looking for a football. I thought it worked last year, and we'll practice the same way that we did last spring."

Winning is a Cowboy Habit
One aspect of this team is that for the most part this group of players have won big throughout their careers as Cowboys. They have won a lot of games. It is something that is now becoming habit, it is contagious and safety Daytawion Lowe feels it will stay that way.

"I think so. I think we are confident with any team that we play," said Lowe. "We feel like we can compete with anybody."

"There are not many guys on our football team that have not won a lot of games in college," added Gundy. "They understand winning, so it is our responsibility as coaches to put them in position to win again. If they start winning, then they will get right back in the frame of mind that they were in (last season)."

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