Spring Football: Out Of Pajamas, Into Pads

Throughout this first week of spring football there have been a lot of new sights and sounds on the Oklahoma State practice field. There isn't a lot of sound but a lot of sight on the offensive end where offensive coordinator Mike Jurcich is busy calling plays. In the words of new defensive line coach Joe Bob Clements, the pajamas came off Thursday as the Cowboys put on pads for the first time.

Those are some of the instances that head coach Mike Gundy is talking about when he speaks of one of the exciting aspects for him this spring is the new faces and new voices.

"The new coaches because it's always exciting to see them adjust and get to know the players," said Gundy. "Our new defensive coaches, and you really have two guys (Joe Bob Clements and graduate assistant Eric Henderson) coaching the defensive line, and a new coach in the secondary and we switched that up. Van (Malone) has corners and Tim (Duffie) is coaching the safeties. Those things for me are fun and interesting to watch."

The funny transfer of sound is where the noise comes from on the Cowboys favorite practice field east of Gallagher-Iba Arena. The past three years the noise level has been higher in the west southwest quadrant of the practice field. That was the area patrolled by offensive coordinators Dana Holgorsen and Todd Monken.

Now with Yurcich that area is quieter and so much of the verbiage no longer rhymes with duck. The louder encouragement is now coming from the east northeast area that is used by the defensive line, and then to the main practice field during team sessions but on the other side of the ball.

"Joe Bob is very high energy and so is Eric our graduate assistant on defense that is able to coach," added Gundy with a smile. "He is a really high energy guy. There is a different approach for the players being out there, and it was different with pads on after those first two practices in shorts. It's fun to see the players adjusting to coaches."

Former defensive coordinator and defensive line coach Bill Young could get in grills and would, but there is no mistaking that youth has different characteristics and one can be making more noise. Thursday was ready made for even more noise as the Cowboys were out of "pajamas" as Clements describes the first two practices in shorts and into full pads.

"It's been described a lot of different ways," said Clements of his coaching style. "There is no doubt it gets louder when the pads come on and we start getting some of those collisions."

"I think he is real good and change is good," said All-Big 12 defensive tackle Calvin Barnett. "I have the utmost respect for Bill Young and he is the main reason I came here. But changes happen and it's a business and I welcome Coach Clements with open arms.

"You have to be ready for (more intensity). Have to, he is a little younger than Coach Young and it's a given he'll have a little more fire than Coach Young."

Clements was a self-made player at Kansas State, the typical Bill Snyder player that is under the radar coming in and then is coached and pushes himself to be a good football player. Clements takes the same approach to coaching that he did to playing. He was helped along with two stints coaching under Bill Snyder at Kansas State. He also coached at San Diego State and Kansas while Snyder was retired and then came back to rejoin the man responsible for the "Miracle in Manhattan."

Defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer, like Clements a former defensive lineman in college and a person that really wanted to be in the coaching profession, had no previous connection to Clements. But he couldn't help but notice that Clements name kept surfacing.

"When you get a name coming up from different areas without a connection, this name is coming from this coach and then it comes up again from this man and they have no connection, then there must be something to this guy," explained Spencer.

"The you spend a couple of hours with the guy and you talk ball, intensity and the demands of the defensive line and you realize there is a certain amount of toughness that he is going to bring and you realize that this is the guy we need. It is showing already and those kids are really responding to him."

"I think it is great and I have had nothing but positive experiences so far with Glenn and the rest of the staff," said Clements. "We have a good room and a lot of good minds and we're working well. I think we are thinking alike when we need to but I think we all bring something different to the table too. We have meshed really well to this point."

With players like Barnett, fellow senior defensive tackles Anthony Rogers and Davidell Collins, the very talented James Castleman and then the huge battle at defensive end, it's apparent that Clements and Henderson have their hands full but they are more than capable hands.

Thursday's practice, which ran about two hours and 10 minutes in full pads, was the final practice of the first week. Now players have spring break before returning to campus and back to practice on Monday, March 25. The Cowboys have 11 more practices to go and then the spring game on April 20 at 1:30 p.m.

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