Cowboys Notebook: Focus Shifts To Bulldogs

After the scrimmage on Saturday and two days off on Sunday and Monday, it is back to work on Tuesday for the Oklahoma State Cowboys. The focus shifts to equally working to get better and working to know and be prepared to beat Mississippi State in the Texas Kickoff Classic at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 31.

"If you're not ready for Mississippi State right now, you're on the wrong team," said defensive tackle Calvin Barnett earlier this week. "We are getting familiar with their stuff right now."

Actually, the Cowboys have worked some each practice on Mississippi State as the offense and defense have exchanged scout teams that are imitating the Mississippi State offense and defense.

"What you read on film is true," added defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer. "They have an experienced quarterback, running back, offensive line and they're all coming back. They could bring in another quarterback and run some option. Coach (Mike) Gundy is doing a good job giving us time in camp to prepare for them."

Tyler Russell is the Bulldogs quarterback. Last season he completed just under 59 percent of his passes for 2,897 yards with 24 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. The receivers will be new.

On defense, the Bulldogs return most of their front seven but are replacing three-fourths of their secondary, including Johnny Banks, the 2012 Jim Thorpe Award winner as the nation's best defensive back.

The Bulldogs had a reward night on Wednesday as they went bowling. They then came back on Thursday with a scrimmage that according the head coach Dan Mullen was a mixed bag with big plays.

"A good night, Mullen said. "We had a lot of good work, a lot of stuff to teach off of. I mean there are a lot of good things, a lot of bad things, a lot of things we've got to evaluate on film and see. We got a lot of guys a lot of different plays, put a lot of guys in a lot of situations. So a lot of teaching for our guys."

Mullen did little elaboration and was wanting to wait and watch video before coming with a more concrete opinion.

"No, a lot of big plays which I don't know if that's good or bad," he said in giving a cursory evaluation. "So we've got to watch that on film. You want to make sure that big play everybody is executing and somebody made a big play, not someone made a terrible mistake. That is the stuff we have to watch on the film."

The Cowboys have had a freshman or two rise up in camp. One, tall wide out Marcell Ateman has gained a few fans among the coaching staff. Ateman has really good ball skills and can be counted on to play. But he won't likely be the only freshman catching passes in the game.

"De'Runnya Wilson (6-5, 215) had a huge night, he made a lot of big plays," added Mullen. "He stood out to me. Chris Jones stood out to me tonight. (Ashton) Shumpert had a bunch of nice runs so he stood out.

"To me, I evaluate so much I'm not really looking to see, a lot of times I look down the field to see what's going on and I'm looking at something else completely to see what is happening on that play and that we're executing the way we wanted to."

Both schools get the same number of practices before the Aug. 31 game, and both schools start classes the same time. That can be different as Arizona last season didn't start classes until after the game with OSU. It can be an advantage, but not this year.

Parker Graham for Postseason
I've been a big fan all through the spring and summer. My friendships with some of the awards people has allowed me from time to time to put in a good word for a player.

I've said all summer that I think Cowboys senior offensive tackle/guard Parker Graham is good enough to make the grade for some awards watch lists. His coach, Joe Wickline, tends to agree.

"Just based on cross film, which allows me to watch a lot of offensive linemen in the league over and over again, you're going to have a difficult time finding a bunch better than him," said Wickline.

"He's tall, he's long and he's a very serious guy about his game. He's got a ridiculously good bend and is quick off the ball. He's got good hands and he's graduated and getting his master's degree and he's gotten really strong. You're going to have a hard time finding anyone better."


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