Cowboys Improve During Lengthy Team Period

STILLWATER - Mother Nature forced the Oklahoma State Cowboys back in Boone Pickens Stadium on Wednesday afternoon for the team's 11th practice session of the spring. Morning thunderstorms left the practice fields too wet to practice on. Work on Wednesday was geared toward correcting mistakes from Monday's scrimmage and looking to improve some areas where weaknesses were revealed.

There was a long team period with the offense and defense testing each other in various situations and going full speed under "thud" conditions (no tackling to the ground).

The defense was not gloating over having the better day on Monday but they played well again on Wednesday.

"This was a really good practice today. We had really good weather, and the players got better on both sides of the ball. One thing that stands out to me is we still have really good speed in the second level of our defense, guys that can run and make plays and get their hands on the ball," said Mike Gundy

"We haven't had that the last few years, or since I've been head coach, so that's really encouraging. The quarterbacks continue to get better. Wes Lunt had some nice plays today. Our wideouts need to do a better job of catching the ball; we didn't catch the ball as well as we needed to late in the scrimmage."

Gundy gave credit to the defense for making things hard on the quarterbacks battling for the starting role.

"Defensively, our guys are playing better and put more pressure on the quarterbacks, put more pressure on the running game. I really liked our attitude, really liked our tempo. We'll come out and have a thud full-scale workout on Friday, which is a little unusual for us at this time of year. We would normally wait until next week, but we're going to go ahead and have a really good workout on Friday; put the ball down and let them play," said Gundy.

Wednesday's team period lasted for nearly half of the practice, and the head coach saw a lot of things that he saw in Monday's full scrimmage and after reviewing the scrimmage tape.

"There's a lot of things that happened today that happened Monday that I really liked: the speed of our defense and the defensive line in the running game is really good," said Gundy.

"Our running backs are running the ball well, everybody sees that. Everybody expected that with the maturity. We need Herschel Sims and Desmond Roland to really follow up and give us good third and fourth running backs.

"Overall, I really like where our team is at. I like their attitude and the way they're practicing. We have a number of practices before we play our first game. It's an encouraging situation for us with so many young players playing football," the head coach said.

Offensive coordinator Todd Monken said it is real easy to get caught up on each play but the competition at quarterback is based on the entire series of work. Monken does admit that the newest contender Wes Lunt is getting better. But instead of saying the light has clicked on for the new freshman, Monken said it is more like a nightlight in a dark room, and there's still a long way to go for all three of the quarterbacks.

"They've all gotten better. He's (Lunt) going to improve the most because he has not even around. From the get-go, he had no idea what he was doing. He's improved a bunch," said Monken. "They're all doing better. We have to function better as a team around our quarterbacks. Until we do that, we won't be where we want to be."

Monken said he told the offensive staff after the Monday scrimmage that they should not be surprised in some of the struggles considering the talent in the players that have graduated. He preached that it will take time to get back.

His answer on if the quarterback competition is closer than expected kind of follows in line with that line of thinking.

"I don't know. You can say it's half-full and say that all three have done things a lot better than I thought they would. You can say it's half-empty and say that nobody has yet distinguished themselves as our guy," answered Monken.

"That being said, you're also talking about three guys that haven't played yet. We have a number of positions that would be like that. Who's our starter at those positions? I don't know. It's all in how you want to look at it."

There was some thought that the coaching staff would go with another scrimmage on Friday to see some things after the Monday scrimmage, including another look under more game-type conditions for the three quarterbacks battling for the starting role for next season. Gundy confirmed that after Wednesday's practice.

Friday's practice will be the 12th of 15, and will start much earlier at 1 p.m.

Next week, the team is scheduled to practice on Monday and Wednesday before the Spring Football Finale on Saturday, April 21, at 12:30 p.m. That event will conclude the spring and is open to the public. There is a $5 admission but there will be a meet and greet with the players and coaches after the "scrimmage." The ticket for the football also is good for the Oklahoma State baseball game with Texas Tech later that afternoon.

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