Spring Football: Ready For Orange Blitz

STILLWATER - Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy spent much of Friday's practice walking the field and eyeballing his football team, almost as if he was checking how they looked before they get eyeballed by Cowboys fans on Saturday afternoon for the Orange Blitz. Saturday's show which begins at 1:30 p.m., and the Boone Pickens Stadium gates open at 12:30.

There will be a radio broadcast on the Cowboys Radio Network and on satellite radio with Sirius channel 108 and XM channel 190 carrying the broadcast with Dave Hunziker, John Holcomb, and Robert Allen. The broadcast will include interviews with head coach Mike Gundy, offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich, defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer, new offensive line coach Bob Connelly, and players including quarterback J.W. Walsh and defensive tackle James Castleman.

Friday's practice was short, only about an hour and 40 minutes, but it included a long team period of full contact play minus tackling. The Cowboys are at a stage of spring where they need more team work to push the levels of improvement.

"It went good. We cut our practice time down, so two days back-to-back," Gundy said of the practice. "We had about a 40- or 45-play scrimmage there in the end and let the players go out and compete a little bit.

"We've got to get them back here in the morning. Their turn around time is not as much of what it normally is, so we reduced the time with them and the reps, and we'll get them out there tomorrow and have about an hour and a half practice and the extra 30 minutes will allow the fans to come down and spend some time with the team."

After Saturday's scrimmage, fans are invited onto the field to visit with the team for 30 minutes. The setting is informal with no stations or tables. Fans can simply approach whomever they want to interact with.

Fans should enter the field from the 50-yard line on either the north or the south side or they can enter from the ramps on the east side of the stadium. An announcement will be made when it is time for fans to come down.

As for playing in front of the fans, Gundy thinks the players will be eager as does new offensive line coach Bob Connelly

"They're out here every day working against the same team of defensive linemen and it's hard, spring football is a grind for these guys," Connelly said. "To get into that stadium and to have a little crowd and a little noise and some things to see then I would like to think we will have a little pep in our step."

"I think so," Gundy added answering the question on eagerness to play in front of a crowd. "They always look forward to being out there and playing in front of their friends, and then of course the fans. It's good because the spring becomes a little monotonous at times. They go against each other all the time, so now they get an opportunity to be out there in front of their family."

Gundy said he wouldn't point to any player in particular to watch. He kind of yielded to the fans that they've stayed up with the reports and they know who they want to see.

"I don't think there's any one in particular. They'll know," Gundy emphasized. "They stay up with what we're doing online and they know who the new guys are so they'll have certain people that they'll want to watch on both sides of the ball, and I think there'll be enough players out there for them to keep them interested in what's going on.

"We're going to have a practice, a condensed version where they can see different drills and we'll have some seven-on-seven where the quarterbacks will throw a little bit," Gundy continued. "Then when we get into the last 25 or 30 plays will be a team scrimmage setup where they'll compete. During that time there'll be some conversation that goes on the video board and I'll do some interviews and things. Then at the end the fans can come down and meet the players."

The offensive line may not be the most featured position group on the team on Saturday, but it is a youth filled and critical area where progress is being made and more needs to come. It was kind of amazing that Connelly got a good feel for his new players and the same five linemen he started with on the first unit are still the first unit three-quarters of the way through spring practice.

"We are down two guys with Devin Davis and (Brandon) Garrett not going through spring, so those are two guys that will be back that will provide some added depth and will have an opportunity to provide some solid playing time for us," Connelly explained.

"We've got Hargrove, who has had a good spring and he has worked himself up to that second offensive line and is getting a lot of repetitions there. But for the most part it has been the same five guys that have been on that first team.

"We have had (Zac) Veatch working the center position and he has been at right guard with that group. His playing the center position when we get a Davis or a Garrett back that could provide us some wiggle room when we get closer in the fall."

That had to help, the same five guys holding steady and getting reps working together is how an offensive line progresses.

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