Cowboys Football: Focus On Execution

STILLWATER - There is a lot of talk about talent and for good reason because you need to have talent to win football games. Oklahoma State has talent but they also have young talent, and execution will be a vitally important part of the equation this season. During fall camp there have been some practices that have allowed more time to focus on execution, and Thursday morning was another one.

Each day features time where offensive coordinator Todd Monken and the staff work the finer points of each play, each route, each throw to make sure the offense is as sharp as it can be, and players are in the right place at the right time. It is often the difference between a play not working or gaining a little. Sometimes it is the difference between a good play and a chunk play that goes for a touchdown.

"It's about those guys executing, it's never been about the play call," said Monken putting the emphasis on the players. "I think we have talent, and our experienced talent is one deep, so that's really where you are going to see us have the best opportunity to move it right now because the other guys are swimming.

"It's not going to be about talent but about our guys really understanding what we expect them to do, what the defense is doing, and going out and executing it," added Monken.

After this past Saturday's scrimmage there has been a lot of positive discussion about freshman starting quarterback Wes Lunt.

Even a few NFL scouts have shared their opinions with me on Lunt and it's all positive like they haven't seen a freshman quarterback that good in their rounds. Or one said he had every confidence he would be scouting him in greater detail in the future.

It's all good, and it is good with reservations coming from Monken.

"Obviously, his knowledge has grown and everything," said Monken. "It's an easy system since we run simple things, but the reality is that everything falls on him to get us lined up and then to understand what the defense is doing. The improvement is the process, just the understanding of how we operate.

"He is going to throw it accurately and have a good pocket presence. It's just does he really understand getting everybody lined up when we want to go fast, go fast. Where we want our players to be, getting an idea of the way I call it, those thinks will keep coming and growing because he is really just halfway there."

We wrote about the young wide receivers earlier this week in talking with Kasey Dunn, but the majority of those 51 receptions with no drops in last Saturday's scrimmage were going to veteran receivers like Tracy Moore, Isaiah Anderson and Charlie Moore.

"The big thing for us at the position is making sure that everybody understands they've got to pick up their slack a little bit," said Dunn. "I don't want Tracy Moore, for example, who's replacing (Justin) Blackmon, to feel like he's got to go out and get 120 catches.

"He needs to be that go-to guy for us on third down. That's what I'd like him to be – somebody we can rely on. Somebody that in crunch time, it's ‘let's call Tracy's number,' like we did with Blackmon. He doesn't need to come out of every game with 10 catches.

"I'm sure he'd love to have that, but the reality is that Isaiah Anderson on the other side of the ball has to pick up the slack a little bit. He's got to have more numbers and more production than he did last year. It's about trying to match the production as a unit more than it is trying to fill a position and replace those 120 catches from that Z spot," added Monken.

Mike Gundy loves to talk about the "take the top off the defense" guy, and that guy in this offense could be either Isaiah Anderson or it could be Charlie Moore.

"Charlie Moore is pushing for that starting position at X right now," said Dunn. "Isaiah Anderson has had a great camp, and those two are in a battle. Isaiah's got tremendous speed. Right now, he's really in control of his body and running great routes. The knock has always been with catching the football, but he has been stellar all the way through camp and has caught everything thrown his way.

"Yesterday, he probably turned in one of the top five plays I've seen – just an unbelievable catch and getting his helmet ripped off at the same time. They're highly competitive guys and every day they go to work and they practice their tails off. They're stepping up and taking extra reps. They both want that job bad.

"I can say what I want to about trying to get a guy motivated, but the best motivator is competition. Right now those guys are really stepping their game up and have raised their bar. We'll see how it unfolds, but Charlie has done a tremendous job. Everybody thought maybe "okay, spring game, one-hit wonder," but that's not the case. He was great for 14 practices before that spring game and has been great all the way through camp."

Dunn also gave an update on the freshmen receivers, and whether one or two of them have jumped out as the week as gone on.

"Not really. A couple of them jumped out early. C.J. Curry really stepped out early and then Brandon Sheperd came on midway through camp a little bit," said Dunn. "Austin Hays has picked up his game here lately.

"Jhajuan Seales has shown flashes throughout camp of really being a tremendous player. He's got great upside. As soon as he decides he's going to figure it all out and play, we're going to have a great one here and people are going to love him. The fans are going to love him because he's a great kid and a great player. Nobody's stepped out and separated themselves from the rest of the pack yet. The one guy that's been the most consistent is Austin Hays from day one until where we are now."

The defense is doing plenty as well, but since last week's scrimmage there has been a lot more action and a lot less talking at practice. The next football events are two-a-day practices Friday, and don't be shocked if the Cowboys alter the afternoon practice. They go with full pads at 8 a.m.

The Cowboys will scrimmage at 6 p.m. Saturday. Practices and scrimmages are closed to the public.

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