Spring Practice: Gundy, Pickens Watch Workout

STILLWATER - Shortly after the Cowboys started its stretch period and almost immediately after head coach Mike Gundy did his first stint of speaking with the assembled media, here came the man that has his name on the stadium and his imprint on so much that is Oklahoma State University. Billionaire hedge fund and commodities investor T. Boone Pickens arrived with his wife and several protégés.

Pickens spent most of the Cowboys brief scrimmage watching with the head coach and discussing the program and what is immediately ahead as far as prospects for next season. Pickens saw the offense move during the 60-odd plays he was there for.

Both quarterbacks with starter Mason Rudolph and senior-to-be back-up J.W Walsh had success, but the defense was stingy. A Rudolph to redshirt freshman Keenen Brown touchdown pass from inside the 10-yard line was the only score.

"Mason's done very well. In my opinion, he needs to continue to develop leadership," Gundy said immediately before the practice. "His attitude is good, his work habits are good and he has developed his body.

"He needs to learn to distribute the ball to the players that can make plays and take what the defense gives him. I've seen him improve considerably over the last six or seven practices and the one thing we all need to remember about Mason is that he's a long ways away from being the finished product. He's only played in three games. He's still very young in his career, but he's going to get better every day."

A few minutes later Gundy called the team together for a few minutes and introduced Pickens, asking him to say a few words to the team. Pickens started by giving his background and told the entire team and staff huddled up around him that in 1946 he went to Texas A&M and then made one of the three best decisions of his life in 1947 transferring to Oklahoma State.

Pickens, who will be 86 next week, then eyeballed Walsh and looking straight at him said, "you're my guy." He then looked around the players and asked, "where is the big kid from South Carolina?" Starting quarterback Mason Rudolph raised his hand. Pickens looked right at him and said, "you are big."

Pickens praised Gundy and the team for the way they finished last season and the win over OU. Then after having Gundy confirm that Oklahoma State had won two of its last four games with OU, Pickens said, "after this season it will be three out of five."

The defense had its moments in the scrimmage as defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer's #WTIB (We're taking it back) -- as in getting back to recovering more fumbles movement -- realized a forced fumble early in the scrimmage that safety Tre Flowers scooped up and scored with. In other words, the scrimmage had give and take and highlights on both sides of the ball as the team wrapped up practice number 12 and the next to last week of the spring drills.

"I feel good about it" safety Jordan Sterns said as he helped to force the fumble. "We've got a long way to go before the first game, but everybody is working every day."

"We went about 60 plays and we will go about 20 more and some red zone work," Gundy said after Pickens left. "It's been a good day and we will look forward to two heavy practices next Monday and Wednesday and then the spring game in front of our fans next Saturday."

As for the visit from Pickens, Gundy said, "Selfishly for me, it's big for us because I enjoy the conversation and the relationship that he and I have and had at one time. We went through a couple of years where we didn't have that communication and it wasn't good for Oklahoma State and it wasn't enjoyable for me.

"We've had a lot of conversations over the phone the past few months and again today. I don't see why we can't build the relationship to where it was a couple of years ago. It takes time and things don't just happen overnight. I haven't said much because if people see you hugging again overnight then they don't think it's true. We've worked on it over the last four months and I would expect it to be good over the rest of my career here."

"I'm satisfied with him. I would say Mike Gundy, if you look at his record, he’s a winner," Pickens said, also acknowledging that the two had been speaking regularly. "We speak every week. He's won more football games and had the best record of any coach we've ever had at Oklahoma State, so sure I'm satisfied with him."

Pickens admitted that the finish of last season and especially the win in Bedlam over OU was cause for him to feel better about the program.

"I loved it. It was great. I like to win, you all know that," he said.

"Everybody is together and ready to go. We're going to have a good year," Pickens added looking ahead to next season. "I'm excited about it. Gundy tells me we have a good team and I really am looking forward to the season."

The total scrimmage really lasted only a little over an hour and the Cowboys will next hit the field on Monday to start the final week of the spring, the final three practices with the Orange Blitz Spring Scrimmage being a 60 or so play game between two teams.

Gundy said they will have two offensive lines, two solid sets of receivers, obviously, they have two good quarterbacks and the defensive side of the ball is loaded. Gundy thought the spring game would last about an hour and 15 minutes and then a meet and greet with the fans. With a 1 p.m. start that should end in time for fans to advantage of free admission to the Cowboys baseball game with Baylor at 3 p.m.

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