Spring Football: Corrections After Scrimmage

STILLWATER - During the first two weeks of spring football when Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy said they were clearing the slate of the non-contact practices in shorts, he indicated that would allow his young football team to develop a physical presence the rest of the spring.

After a 115-play scrimmage in the chill and the rain on Wednesday, Gundy wasn't kidding as his team was back out in full pads on Friday for a workout that logically included corrections from the scrimmage and all the work associated with a regular day of spring practice.

Defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer didn't give much detail but was encouraged by the scrimmage. He said he saw more good things on the tape than bad, and that the defense, with a new scheme and attitude to go with it, was making progress.

Gundy also sees progress and feels his team will be where it needs to be when the time comes to open up the 2013 season.

"I feel good about our football team. I feel good about our program and I've said that the last two or three years, we're pretty far along as a football team right now," Gundy analyzed.

"We're going to play two groups in our scrimmages and practices that function pretty well. That's not always easy to do in the spring when you're down 25 guys. We have some guys right now that haven't played at all and they may rotate in. There's strength in the depth, maturity and experience of our football team.

"We certainly have a lot of work ahead of us, and our defense is getting adjusted to the new scheme, principles and thought process and that takes time. We're going to be as competitive as anyone in the country. I don't know that there is anyone out there that if we didn't play well and take care of the football that we couldn't beat. That's our goal at the end of the day," said Gundy.

To go along with Spencer's thoughts on the defense, new defensive line coach Joe Bob Clements has a mixed bag to deal with on his line. He is working with tackles that are older and more experienced and lots of youthful talent that has very little experience at defensive end.

"We have an eager group of guys, and I've enjoyed the intensity of practice, and the violence with which we get after it. My guys have done well thus far," said Clements. "To me, that's the most fun part.

"It's challenging, in a sense, where they're going to make mistakes quite a bit, but it's enjoyable when you see them correct those mistakes they've made. You watch them do it wrong one day or one snap, and then the next snap you watch them do it right. I get satisfaction out of that."

One example of that youthful but talented player at defensive end is sophomore Trace Clark out of Wichita, Kan. Clark played some as a true freshman but still has much to learn. He has a background that helps.

"He's doing well," Clements said. "Trace is a lot more mature than what you might find in a lot of guys their freshman year. He played a little bit this past fall so he'll be going in as a sophomore.

"He's probably more mature than your average freshman because he played the game for so long with his father (Steve Clark, former Kansas State & New England Patriots DE) and his brother (Zac Clark, former Oregon DT). He's done really well for us right now."

A ky player will be Sam Wren, a junior college transfer and all-conference standout at Arizona Western C.C. Patience is a must as junior college players also need an adjustment period to Division I.

"Sam's doing well. I had a talk with Sam today," Clements relayed. "If we had to play this Saturday, I don't think we'd be ready. But we're making progress to get him there.

"The importance from now, for the rest of spring ball, is that you continue that process so that when spring ball is over, I can look at him and he can look at me and we can say he's ready."

Calvin Barnett is the best example of a player ready to go as the junior college transfer from a year ago that earned All-Big 12 honors should be the cornerstone of the defensive line. He says the coaching of Clements is kicked up a notch.

"He's getting after us. It's good," Barnett said. "I wouldn't say we were a mediocre d-line, but obviously we weren't the greatest as a unit. Any coach that wouldn't accept that is what we need.

"He makes sure everything from a small step to a small hand placement or something really small that last year we didn't realize was important, now it's magnified. The little things are magnified. It makes us focus more and keep our shoulders square."

Doing the little things better across the board is what will allow the defense to improve. It is a must and was a focus of the Cowboys' Friday practice.

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