First Practice Includes Early Teaching Moment

STILLWATER -- The entire Oklahoma State practice on the first day of fall camp was running 10 minutes behind schedule. It's not something that head coach Mike Gundy likes to do, get off the practice plan, but when Gundy started practice with his young team he made a point right off the top.

Gundy felt the locker room was left rather messy. He proceeded to tell the players that was not the way they do things at Oklahoma State. So while the seniors on the team rushed back across the street to the West End Zone to pick up the pre-practice mess the rest of the squad ran gassers (wind sprints). Thankfully, the seniors were quick.

Gundy was only at Friday's practice briefly as he and his wife left for Tulsa to be there for his longtime Midwest City High School and Oklahoma State teammate and lifelong friend Joey Witcher and his wife Lisa. The Witchers lost their daughter, Taylor (20 years old) from injuries sustained in a terrible automobile crash in Tulsa last weekend. Gundy had explained to his team why he would miss most of the first practice (that is discussed in our notes from practice).

The practice finished right around 10:30 a.m. and included the typical first day position drills along with lots of work between the offensive and defensive lines, seven-on-seven work, and finished with a team period featuring first, second, and third units on both sides of the football.

"It's what you'd expect. There are a lot of guys who don't know exactly what to do at times, but I love the way they are amped from drill-to-drill. I love the way they work when the ball is in air," defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer said.

"I love the way we attacked the running back. You're in shorts, so there's not a lot you can tell. You really want to establish a tempo and expectations in practice, and I think we did that today."

"It was great to get back out there today," offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich added. "Our guys showed a lot of enthusiasm and moved around real well. Offensively, I think we did a fine job.

"I think we made a few too many mental errors, but that's a typical first-day mistake. We've got to get that corrected. We turned the ball over once in 7-on-7 drills on a tipped pass. The defensive back got a hand on it, tipped it up and made a nice play. Still, that's one turnover too many. We'll go back, look at the tape, get that corrected and come back for day two."

Going from position group to position group it was easy to make several observations. As a group the running backs look really good with Desmond Roland, Rennie Childs, speedster Tyreek Hill, and newcomer Sione Paleleiall looking the part.

The receivers, as expected, are impressive as a group. The quarterbacks executed and threw the ball well as Yurcich said the only turnover being a deflected pass in seven-on-seven.

The offensive line did well as a group and seemed to retain a lot of what they learned. As new offensive line coach Bob Connelly told us several days ago, the first unit was the same as in the spring with Daniel Koenig at left tackle, Chris Grisbhy at left guard, Paul Lewis at center, Zac Veatch at right guard, and redshirt freshman sensation Zach Crabtree at right tackle.

"I would grade us at probably a high 'B.' Today, we did really well out there," senior offensive line leader Daniel Koenig said. "That was kind of like during the summer. You know, you can't really say since we're out there with just shorts and a t-shirt. Today really showed it, though. We came out ready to go. Tomorrow, we've just got to keep on going."

Defensively, the linemen look like one of the strongest positions on the team. For curious fans, Dallas Pinkston defensive end Trey Carter has reported and even though he missed the entire summer conditioning, he is a good looking player for an incoming freshman.

Speaking of freshmen, defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer coaches the linebackers as his position group and he liked what he saw.

"We're pleased, and that's the first step," Spencer confirmed. "At least I'm not sitting here saying they won't be physically ready for the next two or three years. We couldn't afford for that to happen, and they took care of their business this offseason. Rob (Glass) and these kids did a great job, and they've all got a great attitude. Until we put pads on, we really won't know a whole lot, so we can't tell if we've got the toughness to win at this level yet. That's a process."

Spencer was also asked about the safeties, with young guys in sophomores Deric Robertson and Jacob Sterns and redshirt freshman Tre Flowers as major candidates to be on the field.

"Again, the effort and the tempo was what I really enjoyed. We have to correct some of it, but it was fine," Spencer added. "With the guys being in shorts, it's still hard to say how certain groups are doing. We'll watch the tape, cut it up and come back this afternoon as a staff and discuss some of it.

"I love the energy, I love the juice and I love the leadership. There are a few older guys that we have, and that's huge for us. I'm really just excited to see what happens in the next two or three days with them."

"I just know that we have a larger role and I have a lot of young guys and teammates depending on me to do well, so I've got to work harder," Robertson said.

The opportunity to work harder didn't stop with the morning practice. The team had meetings and a walk through scheduled for later in the day along with a lifting session before dinner. Practice resumes for the Cowboys in helmets and shorts at 8 a.m. Saturday.

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