It is really impressive to see the layout when the full squad uses the facility as the shades were rolled up allowing the air flow inside, and both fields were visible from certain vantage points.
During the scout exchange period the offense had the entire outside field and the defense the entire field inside. There is also a large area partially inside and partially outside for medical and equipment personnel to use between those two fields.
The two-hour practice was in full pads and included a goal-line scrimmage at the end, the third day in a row that the team has spent time with that very physical activity.
We have profiled a lot of positions and a lot of aspects on both sides of the football throughout the first week of practice, but maybe not as much on the offensive line.
It would appear that for now that David Koenig is at right tackle, Brandon Webb at right guard, Jake Jenkins at center, Parker Graham at left guard, and Devin Davis at left tackle. But the situation has been known to change with offensive line coach Joe Wickline.
"Each year you handle different, you kind of don't worry about it," said Wickline in working to find the five best offensive linemen for the five positions up front. "You lose one or you'll lose two or three. You might lose one during the season.
"I really think the (offensive) system helps our guys, the system as far as spreading out and going fast. You get sharp guys and you recruit guys that love the game and get after it. You get some guys that can be flexible and move some guys around and maybe play some earlier than they should play. It all factors in, the system, the way Coach (Rob) Glass develops them, and then we've got good kids."
The changes from last season are obvious, beginning with Jenkins at center, where he played some last season while stepping in for departed senior Evan Epstein. Brandon Webb started much of the second half of last season at guard.
Parker Graham moves inside after starting at tackle last season and the young bucks in Davis (6-6, 300) and Koenig (6-6, 310) take over at tackle. Both have played some. Davis was recruited, by Wickline as a player he felt could follow in the big footprints of Russell Okung.
"I feel like we are doing a great job from where we're at, and we are only about five to six days into camp and we are really pushing hard and the young guys are stepping up," said tackle converting to guard senior Parker Graham. "It is a really good feeling as a veteran knowing everything is going to get better for us."
"We're doing pretty good and kind of building off the spring and knocking the rust off a little bit," said guard Brandon Webb. "We think we're pretty strong right now."
Graham and Webb are a potential All-Big 12 candidates, but Graham is making the adjustment after moving from tackle to guard.
"I'm a longer guy but I love playing inside and it reminds me of being in high school with the nitty gritty and hitting somebody in the face every play," described Graham of his newer place on the offensive line. "I'm really getting more comfortable with it."
The other aspect of this season for Graham is that he is now a bonafide leader of the offensive line. He can remember well being a follower when he first broke into the starting lineup.
"It's kind of like night and day for me. I remember being younger and playing (at tackle) with Lane (Taylor at guard) and he was always getting on me for missing stuff and giving me a hard time, and now I'm doing that for Devin (Davis). You know from where I was to where he is right now, he's doing a great job for us. He's a big kid and real strong and he is going to have a great year."
In the end, it is all about the offensive line being close knit. These are five guys that have to play as one strong force. Backups like Michael Wilson and Brandon Garrett at tackles, Colby Hegwood, Chris Grisbhy and Paul Lewis at guards, and center Zac Veatch need to be ready as well.
"Yes, I think we are pretty close and kind of went through the whole spring together and have been bonding since then," added Webb. "With Koenig, it is kind of my first time to be playing next to him. We kind of fit together. I have to watch myself because he can be kind of dangerous."
The goal is for the entire line to become dangerous to opposing defensive lines like the big 6-5, 300-pound average up front on defense for opening foe Mississippi State. Work on that will continue Friday with two practices.
It's the first day of two-a-days with practice bright and early in the morning and another at 6 p.m. The Cowboys will then hold a scrimmage Saturday before taking the day off Sunday.