Spring Football: Cowboys Squeeze In Scrimmage

STILLWATER - Just as expected, the Oklahoma State Cowboys used their last practice leading up to Saturday's spring finale to scrimmage with officials one last time with the regular units on both sides of the ball. They squeezed in close to 80 plays on Wednesday leading up to the spring game, which will be a little watered down as they split up the team, especially the linemen.

Head coach Mike Gundy said it is the linemen because they are a little banged up and typically short of numbers this time of year, making such a huge difference when splitting the squad. That is why Wednesday's 14th practice was so important.

"We'll have a full thud scrimmage today with officials," said Gundy. "When we practice and in our team periods we get a good game setting."

No stats or highlights have been released from the scrimmages this spring but we can tell you the music was blaring. Gundy believes the loud noise level and the variety of music that ranged from rap to hip hop to country to rock does push players to focus and concentrate especially through the music they don't care for.

Gundy was asked by the media before the scrimmage on Wednesday about the improvement of the team throughout the spring. He seemed to agree with the premise that the cornerbacks, including the trio of veteran Justin Gilbert and sophomores-to-be Kevin Peterson and Ashton Lampkin, have improved the most.

"I would agree that they've improved considerably," answered Gundy. "Our defensive line is much better in my opinion, especially with a couple guys that we had in practice this spring. I think we've really improved in that area.

"I think that the overall improvement as a football team has been very good this spring, but I would agree that the corner position and, in my opinion, the defensive line position are the most improved."

Last season the trio combined for one interception as Lampkin picked off a pass in the opener and his first college game against Savannah State. That number has to improve in 2013.

Peterson had 20 tackles, playing in all 13 games and getting one start. He also had two pass break ups. Lampkin had 18 tackles playing in all 13 games.

"We hope that they're talented enough to do it. They've got size and speed and their willingness to put forth the effort to be a good football player has been there," said Gundy when asked if Peterson and Lampkin were ready to be major contributors.

"Young players have been able to compete at that position in this league, and those guys are coming along. I'm sure that the changes we've made on defense have been very positive for our team."

While Gundy was lauding the cornerbacks, the Cowboys receivers have also been making marked improvement. That has factored in the improvement of the corners and the safeties, where Daytawion Lowe is a mainstay at free safety and Shamiel Gary and Lyndell Johnson continue a monster competition at strong safety.

Every day in seven-on-seven drills, one-on-one drills, and team and scrimmage settings the receivers have fired it up.

"We're a solid three-deep across the board," said receivers coach Kasey Dunn. "Each guy is vying for that opportunity to get out there and play. Those young guys are pushing for time every day, so those veterans can't take a day off.

"Josh Stewart can't take a day off because David Glidden is right there behind him just chomping at the bit to get that position. Charlie Moore can't take a day off because (Brandon) Sheperd is doing everything he can to get the job. The great thing about it is there is no animosity there either.

"Charlie Moore is still helping Brandon Sheperd and I think having our group meet together, both inside and outside receivers, has really brought our unit together as a whole and bringing them together," said Dunn.

Then, C.J. Curry had a break out scrimmage as well. The receivers are pushing which means the corners and the secondary are pushing back or maybe it's vice versa.

"That's one thing I've mentioned throughout the spring, is that I like the approach on defense and the way that they're challenging our receivers," said Gundy. "It's making us better on both sides of the ball. There's really no substitute for competition, whether it's at the same position or positions that compete against each other, like wide receivers and corners."

Back in the day, players used to look forward to watching the battles between premier receivers like Dez Bryant and top defensive backs. All-American and two-time Biletnikoff Award winner Justin Blackmon used to really test a young Justin Gilbert. Now Tracy Moore and Gilbert are the one-on-one show everybody likes to watch.

"They go at it pretty good," agreed Gundy. "Justin's had a really nice change of attitude in the past few months. He's been more competitive in spring ball than over the past 12 months, in my opinion. He's obviously very talented. There's been a number of those (matchups) here over the past several years that have been really good and it makes both players better."

The Cowboys get the next two days to rest up a little and then prepare to split up and put on a Saturday show at 1:30 p.m. at Boone Pickens Stadium for Legend's Weekend and the Spring Finale.

There will be no admission charge and gates on the south side of the stadium will open at 12:30 p.m.

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