Daydreaming For Cowboys Football

STILLWATER - Wednesday afternoon I was sitting with a good friend and Cowboy alum in the stands at Allie Reynolds Stadium watching his son, Roman, play in an Oklahoma State Games All-Star showcase game with college coaches also watching. Josh Holliday was on the second row and former OSU assistant Roland Fanning, who is now at Arkansas-Little Rock, was watching as well.

But it wasn't just baseball coaches taking in the action. About 15 yards over under the overhang behind home plate was Oklahoma State defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer. Spencer wasn't looking for football talent on the diamond, he was watching his son, Abe, a Stillwater High School standout play third base for one of the eight teams in the event.

It's that time of year, a precious few weeks in late June and through July that the road doesn't beckon for recruiting and there is no immediate game to prepare for. Coaches get some time off to watch sons and daughters, and vacation with families.

However, there is still progress being made for Cowboy football.

Cowboy Backs coach Jason McEndoo is on the road moving family, family animals, and other necessities from Montana to Stillwater. Kasey Dunn is about to compete in a triathlon with his daughter Kayla. Cornerbacks coach Tim Duffie is just looking forward to spending time and getting away with his wife and sons.

Head coach Mike Gundy and his wife, Kristen, are still following sons Gunnar and Gage around baseball diamonds and preparing oldest son, Gavin, for his freshman year at the University of Arkansas. Now is the time to get away and energize for the coaching staff and for fans to do some daydreaming about the upcoming season.

The players continue to work. That is important stuff this time of year, but so is the continued percolating of the progress toward the start of fall camp and, ultimately, the start of the season.

Thursday night, the Cowboys went through another "metabolic" workout. This is the term for the player-led drills, seven-on-seven, and team work (11-on-11) that they do a couple of nights a week in June. But once returning from the extended weekend for the Fourth of July will increase to three nights a week.

I can tell you from witnessing a couple of these practices that they are as smooth as I have ever seen them. The match might be prior to the 2011 season when the older Brandon Weeden was leading the offense with some pretty experienced defense leadership to match.

With two quarterbacks, starter Mason Rudolph and veteran leader J. W. Walsh, both heavily involved and working in unison with each other the offense is as crisp as it could possibly be in the middle of the summer. Even a young offensive line and a brand new running back in the mix in Chris Carson are very limited in missed assignments and even questions on the field.

The biggest issue is getting enough reps for everybody in the just over one hour usually allowed for these workouts. Those practices are in addition to the usual lifting sessions and conditioning workouts led by assistant athletic director for athletic performance Rob Glass and his staff.

Rudolph, Walsh, Taylor Cornelius and freshman John Kolar all want reps at quarterback. Running backs Rennie Childs and Carson both want all the reps they can get, and there are a ton of receivers that want on the field.

Now, while the workouts have been smooth, some of the ground work for those workouts and for the understanding of the offense and the defense have come in the previous weeks as the coaching staff squeezed some hours out in between camps and staff meetings, primarily regarding recruiting but also looking at the upcoming season, to meet with the players. NCAA rules allow a few hours each week for coaches to spend with the players in the summer.

Gundy prefers those hours come in the meeting rooms by position rather than on the field and likes for the players to continue to lead those late afternoon workouts.

"You know right now your best ally as a coach is competition," receivers coach Kasey Dunn said. "We've got a lot of competition right now at the receiver spot and may not have that star power like we did with Dez (Bryant) or Justin (Blackman).

"We have a lot of guys that can run routes and make the catch and then make plays after the catch. All of our guys, including the young guys, are in the meeting room and paying attention. They push each other and we don't have any headaches. We have a lot of great players with their heads on straight doing the right things. It's a great group."

Dunn mentioned Brandon Sheperd, Marcell Ateman, David Glidden, Austin Hays, Jhajuan Seales and James Washington, and said that is the tip as there is so much depth.

The offensive line, as we mentioned, is jelling and offensive line coach Greg Adkins really feels like they are showing a lot of maturity for a young group.

"It's still a work in progress for me and my players getting to know each other and that is a drawback to being hired late in the spring," Adkins said. "There is some experience with those guys and we have to break down the bad habits and get past those.

"That group worked as hard as any group I've ever had in the spring, and they were willing and wanting to learn and that process has continued over the summer. I'm highly optimistic about this group. We have to still figure out some combinations, especially that second group because we'll get banged up and they will be important."

Over on defense, the work continues to get better with the young players at defensive tackle, but the experience and leadership is so strong and deep at all other positions.

In the practice, the newest super senior transfer, two-year starter Michael Hunter at cornerback coming from Indiana, is impressive. Cornerbacks coach Tim Duffie is not only impressed with Hunter but impressed with how his group, including a lot of experienced players ready to compete for playing time, has welcomed a player that even further increases the competition.

"We have Kevin Peterson, Ashton Lampkin back from injury, Ramon Richards, Darius Curry, Miketavius Jones, and we also have the transfer in Michael Hunter," Duffie said. "I just visited with the guys last week and obviously it is hard for Mike to leave a place where he started two years and come to a new place and start all over. It is also the impact of him coming into a very veteran group and them accepting him.

"I think our guys have been overwhelming in how they have accepted and welcomed him. He has been very humble with his attitude and I think that has been perfect. In the meeting room and talking ball he fits in perfect with our team. If he had a bad attitude or our kids had a bad attitude, it wouldn't matter what he could do on the field, but it has all fit together great."

So, now this Fourth of July weekend when you look up at the sky and in the exploding wonder you see the shape of helmets, footballs and even Pistol Pete, remember this is the time to daydream. At the same time progress is being made, and, like the coaches, squeeze a few more days of fun out of summer vacation because football will be here soon enough.

"I'm really looking forward to August 1 when we can all get together and start working for the season," Dunn said speaking for likely all the staff. A little more vacation time is okay, though, between now and fall camp.

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