Fall Camp: Practice Report 3

STILLWATER – Thursday was the first day in helmets and shoulder pads for the Oklahoma State Cowboys and anymore in football that is a license to play football. Coaches don't want players hitting the ground, but sometimes the anxiety and anxious attitudes can't be helped.

For the Cowboys, the first play in the first team period, which featured ones and twos on offense against ones and twos on defense, had Mason Rudolph handing to newcomer Chris Carson and as he turned the corner five yards up field with a head of steam star linebacker Jordan Burton squared up and fitted Carson just the way you're supposed to in the chest.

The force knocked Carson to the ground. The newcomer popped up and hugged the defender that put him down. That is a great start to a season of full contact. Of course, most days of practice won't feature full contact as once the season is on it will be just a day or two a week. Nice to know that your guys know how to do it and your offensive skill players know how to take it.

The first practice in combat gear was good as the just over two hour practice certainly helped move the process along of installations and young players gaining familiarity with the program.

"It was better than the first day," offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich said after the practice. "We’re just looking for improvement every day. I felt we improved, but there’s going to be ups and downs throughout camp and it’s a gradual process. Our guys understand that. It’s a fun time because it’s just football and we get plenty of meeting time with them and plenty of walk-throughs and run-throughs and team sessions, so it’s a fun time of year."

While the defense is stressing turnovers, which defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer punctuated yesterday and every day and every time he is on special media with the hash tag #WTIB (we're taking it back), Yurcich is harping on protecting the ball. With lots of work on the run game Thursday that was stressed and both Carson and Rennie Childs, who split reps with the offense, did well in keeping the ball off the turf.

"Overall improvement. First and foremost, ball security – making sure that we’re taking care of the football, making sure that we’re in no bad plays and playing with tempo," Yurcich said when asked what the major goals were early in practice.

The normal install on offense is three days, and that would get the process run through once right when the full pads come on this Saturday, but time is something you have a little balloon of during preseason camp, so Yurcich is more concerned about getting it down than getting it done.

"You’ve got to be careful there," the third-year OSU offensive coordinator said. "It’s always a balance of, you want to get enough in and there’s always a fine line of doing too much. You’ve got to flirt with that borderline a little bit; that threshold, and see what the guys can do. Then be able to evaluate that on tape and have discussions with the staff and be able to take it from there."

Just some mini takes from practice and that is the defensive attitude is excellent. I would point to the corners as players that are really getting after it, and it is not just Kevin Peterson, newcomer and two-year Indiana starter Michael Hunter, Ashton Lampkin, and Ramon Richards. Darius Curry and Miketavius Jones are getting crazy out there as well. It is truly a very loaded position.

It is fun to watch all the new coaches plying their trade. Dan Hammerschmidt working the safeties and getting right there with them on the field to explain reads.

The Cowboy backs are performing at a high level with redshirt freshman Jordan Frazier making several plays and showing he is ready to move into some more responsibility. Running backs coach Marcus Arroyo is non-stop and because he is non-stop his players have to be as well. It is a high energy practice all around.

Emmanuel Ogbah may be looking at an All-American season at defensive end but he is also showing more and more of that leadership he started picking up in the spring. Along with Jimmy Bean, the defensive ends are pushing each other and also pushing the defensive tackles that are really without the one leader they had going into the summer in the injured Vili Leveni.

It's round two of helmets, shoulder pads, and shorts at 8:30 a.m. Friday and the Extreme Campers arrive for the next three days as some of Oklahoma State's most ardent fans will get an inside look over the weekend at Cowboy football. They get to attend all practices, team meals, meetings (both team and individual), and have special social time with the coaching staff.

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