New Faces Greet Cowboys At Spring Practice

Oklahoma State was back on the practice field exactly 68 days after disposing of Purdue 58-14 in the Heart of Dallas Bowl in the historic Cotton Bowl. There were several differences from Jan. 1 to Monday as the sun was shining and the wind wasn't blowing. Even though the temperature was a little chilly it was a much nicer day on the bermuda grass on the practice fields east of Gallagher-Iba Arena.

Making their first appearance at an Oklahoma State practice were offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Mike Yurcich, defensive line coach Joe Bob Clements, and inside receivers coach Jason Ray.

All of those coaches looked happy and enthusiastic to be coaching the Cowboys. Just after the two-hour practice began head coach Mike Gundy announced the vacancy created last week when Mississippi hired cornerback coach Jason Jones was filled by the Cowboys hiring of former Texas Tech linebacker and recent Wake Forest defensive backs coach Tim Duffie.

"He's a really good fit," Gundy said of the hiring of Duffie. "We're looking for a quality coach that's got experience in the secondary that has recruiting ties to this part of the country. He's from East Texas and has recruited Dallas for a number of years. He comes very highly recommended as a quality person and a really good football coach."

As for the practice, Gundy was happy as it had the snappy, high tempo he likes to see in practice during the year, and especially on a first day of spring or fall camp.

"There was a lot of excitement today," Gundy said. "The players moved around really well at practice. There was a lot of excitement with the coaches. We were glad to be back out here. The weather was beautiful. We have good young players that we're looking forward to getting back on the field."

The practice was one of two of the mandatory 15 spring practices allowed that has to be conducted in shorts and helmets. Tempo is about all you can evaluate until the pads come on.

The Cowboys should get some good hitting in before the end of the week with practices on Wednesday and Thursday before players depart for spring break.

"Their attitude and body language are the two most important things that we do every day. I was impressed with that. Of course, some guys got lined up wrong and we need to throw and catch better and be in the right spot on defense," Gundy said after practice. "That's what spring ball is for, giving young guys quality reps. Their attitude and body language was a positive."

One thing that was noticeable with all of the new coaches was they were prepared, seemed to know their personnel, and in the case of the new offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich never stuttered or hesitated with calls.

Yurcich has been in the office a lot, in the office late a lot, and it is evident he likes being a ball coach and wasn't going to fall short in his assignment to know the Cowboys offense and all the terminology that goes with it.

"I thought they did real well," Gundy said of the new coaches in his post-practice conversation with Gavin Lang of OSU Athletic Media Relations. "It's an adjustment for them just like it is for the players, but they're quality coaches. As they get a feel for our practices – which are different than most teams because we move really fast – they'll adjust. I think the players have responded to them very well at this point."

Tuesday is a big day for the likes of NFL Combine participants running back Joseph Randle and kicker/punter Quinn Sharp; offensive linemen Lane Taylor, Evan Epstein and Jonathan Rush; tight end turned defensive end now back to tight end Cooper Bassett; linebacker Alex Elkins; defensive ends Nigel Nicholas and Ryan Robinson, and cornerback Brodrick Brown as the NFL scouts and coaches come to Boone Pickens Stadium for OSU Pro Day.

The indoors tests of measurements, bench press, vertical, and long jump start at 10 a.m. inside the west end zone. The 40-yard dash, field tests and position drills should start about 11 a.m. on the field.

The Cowboys next practice will be Wednesday with another practice Thursday until taking off until March 24 for spring break.

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