Lewis One Of The Keys To Offensive Line

STILLWATER - Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy has always liked practicing as much as possible on natural grass, especially in the preseason, to try and go lighter on the legs of his players. The Cowboys made full use again for the second straight day of all the fields, both artificial fields and both grass fields at their spacious practice facility.

It was day three in full pads and part of the grind of 10 straight practices, including a two-a-days practice Friday and a scrimmage on Saturday before the first day off in fall camp on Sunday.

"We had a good practice this morning," Gundy told the audience in noon time teleconference to promote the season opening Advocare Cowboys Classic. "We've been in pads for several days. Our team's attitude has been enthusiastic and the effort has been good.

"We're excited about the next two or three weeks of preparation. We are to the point where it is a little bit of a grind and we are pounding on each other, but as I said they are eager to learn. I am very impressed with our staff and the way they have handled our team. We'll keep going and then in about a week or so we'll begin preparing for Florida State."

Gundy has been pleasantly surprised with several areas of his football team that had to be rebuilt in part or in whole. The defense, with mostly new starting linebackers and new safeties, has played pretty well.

The best aspect of the offensive line is that they have a strong and talented defensive line to go against. every day So far, the offensive line depth is thin but they have played well with the starting group. Just as Gundy said prior to the start of fall camp, center Paul Lewis is critical.

New offensive line coach Bob Connelly has found three guards with the starters being Chris Grisbhy and Zac Veatch. He now has three tackles with Brandon Garrett being cleared to join Daniel Koenig and Zach Crabtree. Right now, Veatch would back up at center and that makes Lewis crucial at a crucial position.

"I've always considered myself, you know stay advanced and everything," Lewis said. "I really took pride in this because it is on me now. I'm the center and I have to communicate everything to everybody and everything.

"Since I've been here I've wanted this, to be the starting center. It was my dream coming in as a freshman and I have taken advantage of this since the spring. I have learned the offense and the way he (Connelly) wants us to run it and the calls he wants made. I have made huge leaps and gains between spring and now with all that and in getting faster and stronger."

Now, things can get ugly inside in the trenches. But at the end of the day I have often said that center may be the best position in football, at least on offense. You touch the ball every play. You control the offensive line, and centers almost always command a lot of respect.

"I think it is one of the most important positions in football," Lewis said. "Without the center you don't have anybody to get things going."

Lewis is hoping he is there for direction all season, direction and blocking. Connelly and the Cowboys hope so too. It would be nice to know that he is going to be healthy all season long.

Friday, Lewis and his offensive line mates and the Cowboys will go through their first two-a-days practice.

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