Cowboys Football: Back In Pads

STILLWATER – Day five of fall camp and the first day in full pads, which really is not that much of a difference for the Oklahoma State players because they aren't allowed to tackle to the ground or block below the waist. The advent of pads can bring on a little lethargy and practice can take on a little monotony. Good players are able to fight through that and continue to push themselves.

"We had a good workout today; not a great one," said Cowboys head coach Mike Gundy of the nearly two and a half hour practice. "We had some rain this morning so it was more humid than it has been. We've been very fortunate and haven't had a lot of humidity.

"The players were effective, but not great. We were in full pads and all that, but we need to be tougher mentally and get more out of practice than we did. We got some things accomplished; it wasn't bad. We've got to move faster. Our tempo was just average."

Different players respond to camp in different ways. Freshmen and newcomers are almost always on the bit, an old thoroughbred horse racing term for a race horse that is fully extended. There are other players that stay charged up through the routine and one type of player is the one coming off injury. We've seen that so far in camp from cornerback Devin Hedgepeth that we reported Monday.

"It feels awesome to be back out there and this is really my first time to be back out there with team in a practice scenario," said Hedgepeth. "It felt awesome to be back out there running around and yelling with the guys."

Jonathan Rush is another player in the same boat and coming off of a knee injury in the very same game last fall against Texas A&M. Rush, who has been a victim of a season-ending injury on two occasions, was given an extra sixth year of eligibility from the NCAA after his injury last season.

"It's all just running and gunning," said Rush all excited about practice. "It's like being a little kid again and playing Pop Warner football. It's like a dog and his bone, I finally got my bone back and I'm loving every minute of it."

Rush is known for his interesting comparisons and observations about football and life. I must admit it has been awhile since I have seen someone as charged up about practice in 90 degree heat with humidity.

Gundy followed that up with his expectations of what is ahead in fall camp and also what he is looking for out of the scrimmage coming scheduled for Saturday. That is the first full scrimmage of the fall camp on the grass practice field on Saturday evening.

"Just basic stuff," said Gundy on his scrimmage expectations. "We want guys to be in the right spot, to play hard. We want the offensive guys to eliminate penalties and mistakes and we want the defensive guys to force turnovers and use basic fundamentals.

"I want to see where we are at, see where the quarterback is at. I have a pretty good feel for most every other position. I understand where the young wideouts are at and the young corners, who may very well play in the first game," added Gundy.

As for the future practices, Gundy expects his team to be great instead of good.

"Once we get into the eighth or ninth or 10th practice or so, our guys ought to be up and rolling," continued the Cowboys head coach and last season's Eddie Robinson and Bear Bryant National Coach of the Year.

"They're practicing well, but they need to practice much better in order to play and start out at such a high level like we did last season. We always communicate with our players and tell them the truth. They know that. It's like the end of the game in the fourth quarter. On a morning like today, they get a little fatigued and have to learn how to push through it and fight through it. That's all part of developing the chemistry of a football team."

Now you want to know how to size up the Cowboys through the first five days of practice. Using comments from players and coaches here is the way we would do it.

In general, practices have been good. The team is enthusiastic and is not acting entitled or overconfident. The leadership seems to be really good with running backs Jeremy Smith and Joseph Randle along with wide receivers Tracy Moore and Charlie Moore doing a lot of the vocal leadership on offense. On defense, Cooper Bassett, Caleb Lavey, Brodrick Brown and Dayatawion Lowe are exhibiting a lot of leadership.

Wes Lunt is throwing the ball well, with his biggest area of improvement needing to come in speeding up the release, but that is common for young quarterbacks. It also helps as the Cowboys are into the second sequence of install for the offense. They will continue to speed things up as well.

J.W. Walsh and Clint Chelf have thrown the ball well too. The backs are good and keep an eye out for Desmond Roland too. Roland appears to have worked really hard all summer and is off to a good camp.

You have likely heard the receivers are really playing well with Tracy Moore, Charlie Moore, Josh Stewart, John Goodlett, Blake Jackson, C.J. Curry, Jhajuan Seales, Blake Webb, and others showing up consistently.

On the offensive line it would appear that for now Parker Graham moving to left tackle and Daniel Koenig sliding into right tackle has the departure of Michael Bowie fixed.

Defensively, the line is playing at a very high level. Defensive coordinator Bill Young is happy with Calvin Barnett, Anthony Rogers, Davidell Collins, and Christian Littlehead inside.

Defensive ends Cooper Bassett, Nigel Nicholas, Ryan Robinson, and Tyler Johnson are all doing well. Of the freshmen defensive ends keep an eye on Victor Irokansi out of Pflugerville Hendrickson as he has displayed an explosive first step heading to the quarterback.

The linebackers are three deep and ready to go. The secondary is thin and safeties coach Van Malone now has Shamiel Gary running first team strong safety along with Lowe at free safety.

The starting corners of Brown and Justin Gilbert are backed up by Miketavius Jones and Jonovan Griffin, according to corners coach Jason Jones. But Jones also said to look out for freshmen Kevin Peterson and Ashton Lampkin, as both are big and have played well.

The Cowboys go again in full pads Wednesday morning with stretch and drills beginning at 8 a.m. on the grass practice fields east of Gallagher-Iba.

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