Turning Up The Heat With Full Pads

STILLWATER -- Tuesday's practice was the first full practice in pads and it was the longest practice so far in fall camp for the Oklahoma State Cowboys. They were on the field a little over three hours including the pre-practice routine, but the actual practice ran about two and a half hours on the grass practice fields east of Gallagher-Iba Arena.

There was an inside drill, plenty of work with the offensive line and defensive line while the skill positions had a long seven-on-seven. Then the longest team period of camp finished with a goal-line drill.

"They got a little sluggish in the middle but they finished strong. When we kicked the music on I think it made everybody play a little faster and picked the tempo up," said head coach Mike Gundy.

The music was some hip hop and rap tunes from circa 2000-2003, which the players referred to as oldies. One joke was they had plugged cornerback coach Van Malone's iPod to the speakers.

"We had a good day and we've been healthy," said Gundy. "We've stayed fortunate and been healthy. We just have to continue and push through these next seven or eight days as they are crucial for us in preparation for our first game."

The Cowboys have now jumped through three early hurdles: the first practice, the first practice in shoulder pads with hitting, and the first practice in full pads with more hitting.

The hurdles in the future are more endurance related as camp goes on. There will be the first two-a-days session on Friday, the first scrimmage on Saturday, and three two-a-day sessions the second full week before camp closes with a scrimmage prior to school starting on Aug. 19.

Gundy likes the way it has gone so far.

"I like where we're at, the body language and the team chemistry of these guys is really good at this point," said Gundy answering the question of how his vision of practice is being met by reality.

"That is what it really comes down to. There are a lot of coaches that can draw plays and a lot of players that can make plays. How they come together as a unit and what kind of football team they want to have comes down to their effort, and I like the effort they are giving."

News out of practice is severely limited with the workouts being closed but if you listen to the players you pick up on highlights. We wrote on the everyday battle of turnovers and ball security on Monday and it sounds like the defense celebrated some wins in that area Tuesday while in full pads.

"Everyday (we have highlights). Today Lyndell (Johnson) caught two interceptions I think in a three-play span and that makes you go, wow! He was moved to free safety at the start of fall camp and today he looked dominant," said linebacker Shaun Lewis. "To see him overcome confusion out there and make plays that is real exciting for me."

We learned that former Kansas starter Tyler Patmon had another interception in camp.

"Tyler Patmon is coming along good," added Lewis. "I knew he would be able to help us this summer. He worked hard this summer and stayed out after workouts and got his extra work in and he is real serious about his work at Oklahoma State."

Tuesday was a lot about being physical from the inside drill to the finish on the goal line it seems the offensive line and defensive line were being challenged throughout the practice.

"I think our defensive line is much more aggressive in coming off the ball and they are making it much harder for our offense to make plays," Gundy added. "That's really what I see out here. I see a defense that is very similar to what we have had at this point but I see a group of guys that are on defense and are in more of an attack mode."

One of Gundy's real leaders on the defensive side concurred with his head coach's evaluation.

"Today I saw a lot of aggressiveness and both sides competing real hard," said defensive tackle Calvin Barnett. "It was good energy, football. Goal line is fun, always fun. That is where D-linemen get payday, that is what we like to say."

The goal-line drill was loud and long as the team went through enough series to let everybody get a taste of it.

"Absolutely, you put it down there on the 3-yard line and it gets personal," said defensive line coach Joe Bob Clements. "Every inch matters and counts. It makes it harder on those equipment managers spotting the ball."

Gundy was pressed several times to name names of who is playing well and who is capturing his attention. But the head coach prefers to wait and make sure any first impressions, new impressions, or established impressions are backed up with repeat performances. He did throw out a few names and got around to the offense.

"You have the regular guys that are playing well like (Shaun) Lewis, (Calvin) Barnett, and D. (Daytawion) Lowe. But I like where Ashton Lampkin is; he's improved," said Gundy. "I like what Ryan Simmons has done and there are some offensive young guys that have made plays."

Josh Stewart helped us out with some names of the young guys on offense who are performing well.

"Johnny Goodlett, Marcell Ateman, for sure, and JhaJuan Seales have really impressed me, and everybody else has kind of maintained their performance," revealed Josh Stewart, who said he would give himself a B as his grade so far in camp, although he might be humble with that assessment. "Those three guys are really impressing me."

Goodlett was put on scholarship this summer and has been a very productive player. Seales is a guy we have already bragged about and spotlighted courtesy of Gundy's compliments, but Ateman is new.

He wasI hyped in recruiting as he is 6-4 and a solid 215 pounds. All he did as a senior at Wylie East was catch 84 passes for 1,584 yards and 27 touchdowns. He had 183 career receptions in high school. He has a really calm maturity about him that will and is serving him well.

There's been a lot to absorb and now the Cowboys go back on media silence until Saturday after the first scrimmage of fall camp. The noise so far has been good noise and the hope is that it keeps coming out that way during practice and when coaches and players have the occasion to talk about practice.

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