How The Cowboys Are Stacking Up

STILLWATER - In what is a typical cycle during fall football camp, the Oklahoma State Cowboys were inside the Sherman Smith Training Center in full pads Thursday morning, and the offense had a good day against the defense. The cycle you often see in preseason practice is for the defense to stand out in one practice, then the offense in the next. It is not unusual for that pattern to continue.

Now, the cycle only develops when you have talent on each side of ball and sound schemes. That is when the mental side of playing football takes over. The day after finishing second in practice to the other side of the ball there is increased motivation to improve and get back on top. It is sometimes amazing how that plays out.

"It was good and bad," defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer said of the Thursday morning practice. "We picked up the tempo a little bit, so we tested them a bit. We tested the wind and their endurance.

"What I liked about it was we had some guys trying to hold each other accountable, so we had some guys with a chip on their shoulder. If they saw somebody not getting up to chase a ball or not finish a play, they would start to get on each other. That’s what you want as a coach."

After the two-hour, 20-minute practice in full pads, the fall practice schedule is down to two-a-day practice day for Friday and a scrimmage scheduled for Saturday.

Here is our opinion of how the Cowboys stack up position-by-position.

Running back is a strength as camp has progressed. The announcement that Tyreek Hill was going to predominantly play in the backfield gives the offense a home-run threat in Hill, who is also a threat as a receiver out of the backfield, a battering ram with straight speed in Desmond Roland, and an in between back with sharp elbows and knees in Rennie Childs.

All three players have made plays in camp. Jeremy Seaton still can play fullback but is also on board for tight end duty. Teddy Johnson will be a good hand at fullback with his tough and determined style of play.

Quarterback is the most vague position by discussion but don't worry. All three quarterbacks have shown up well in camp.

J.W. Walsh is the most experienced, his throwing has improved, and he is a coach-on-the-field. His ability to escape and run makes him easily the right choice to play against a speedy, athletic Florida State defense. Walsh has not cemented the starting position for the season, but he gets first opportunity to do so.

As soon as week two against Missouri State the situation could be re-evaluated with Daxx Garman and Mason Rudolph in the mix. The quarterback that plays must be able to throw and connect in the passing game because of the strength of the receivers in the offense.

Easily one of the strongest positions on the team is receiver, both wide and inside. Jhajuan Seales, Brandon Sheperd, Marcell Ateman, Austin Hays, James Washington, C.J. Curry, and Chris Lacy on the outside and David Glidden, Ra'Shaad Samples, Kameron Doolittle, and Blake Webb on the inside form an 11-man strong unit.

Add Jeremy Seaton, Blake Jarwin and Jordan Frazier at tight end and you have a better than solid contingent of pass catchers.

Offensive line coach Bob Connelly is still looking for some answers, but the good news is he has a starting five with tackles Zach Crabtree and Daniel Koenig, guards with Zac Veatch and Chris Grisbhy, and a center in Paul Lewis.

The challenge is back ups and it appears that returning starter Brandon Garrett is the next tackle in, Colby Hegwood is the next guard in, and Connelly is looking for more centers with the young pup walk-on Brad Lundblade very promising.

On defense, you can put the Cowboys' defensive line right there with the receivers as one of the strongest positions on the team. The defensive ends are stacked with Emmanuel Ogbah, Jimmy Bean, Sam Wren, Trace Clark, and Vili Levini. Don't look now but Victor Irokansi has had a good camp. There is lots of talent and depth at defensive end.

At tackle, James Castleman and Ofa Hautau are stout as starters and the young redshirt freshmen backups are developing fast.

"It is very special, I'm not going to lie," Ben Hughes said of playing with Vincent Taylor. "We've had our ups and down but we've gone through it together, but we treat each other like brothers and he is more of a speed guy and I'm a power guy. We work very well. He is more agile and slim and fast and I am big and wide."

"I think we’re getting good play up front," Spencer said of the defensive line in camp. "Those older guys, like (James) Castleman, Ofa (Hautau), Jimmy (Bean), Sam (Wren) and Trace (Clark) give us some good ends and some good defensive tackles. Those guys will be giving us some good depth."

Linebacker is a concern but don't say that to middle linebacker Ryan Simmons, who brings it every snap and is willing the rest of the crew to get better. Spencer couldn't ask for a better leader here.

The other more experienced players in Seth Jacobs and Demarcus Sherod have played well at the weak side linebacker. The star is the position still to be determined with Michigan transfer Josh Furman, Gyasi Aken, and Kirk Tucker still contending.

"Ryan (Simmons) is having a good camp, and Jordan Sterns has been really physical this camp and has been doing a good job. Both of our corners are having a good camp. We’ve really got some depth concerns in a couple of positions. We had a couple of nicks out there today, and it’s going to affect us, so we’ve got to get those guys back out there,” Spencer added.

Kevin Peterson and Ashton Lampkin provide confidence at corner. The competition behind those two is heated, including a few young pups like Juwan Offray, Darius Curry, and Ramon Richards. The competition between receivers and the secondary is intense.

Spencer mentioned Sterns and on Wednesday safeties coach Tim Duffie popped Larry Stephens and Tre Flowers along with Deric Robertson. Stephens is the old guy and the others are young, but the energy back there is good.

Two-a-days on Friday and scrimmage on Saturday and then camp comes to a close and the preparation for the Seminoles kicks into high gear.

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