Practice Report: An Easy Day For Cowboys

STILLWATER – Back in the old days of preseason football camp you'd likely never have seen a practice like Tuesday's. But in this modern era of being much more careful with how much full contact a team engages in and being prudent about the health of the football squad, a practice with helmets and shorts exactly one week into the camp with little or no contact was just what the head coach ordered.

"We just finished our walk-through for today," head coach Mike Gundy said after the hour, 30-minute session. "Today was a much lighter practice for us. We've been through about six really good workouts. We went through a lot of mental situations in practice today in spiders (protective rubber shoulder covers) and shorts.

"We kind of let the players regroup, hydrate, get some quality sleep, eat some food and let them get their bodies back to how they were on August 2nd. We'll go back at it tomorrow, and then we'll scrimmage on Thursday and Saturday."

The players were bouncing around pretty good and the coaches were definitely into the workout. Special teams coordinator Robbie Discher, who is always bragging on and thankful to Gundy for the amount of time the head coach allows on special teams work, was grateful as the first 45 minutes or so was spent on special teams.

Most of it was situational as they reviewed returns on kickoffs and punts and they went over various kickoff situations including looking at different personnel for some of their kickoff units.

The rest of the practice was with the offensive and defensive staffs putting their units through various situations. Most of those were defined by situation with down and distance and by situation with score and time left in the half or the game. All the work was done against scouts with no contact.

On offense, both quarterbacks Mason Rudolph and J.W. Walsh had a good norning throwing the football, although the promise of no rush and the scouts being careful about contact surely created larger windows to throw into.

Over on defense, coordinator Glenn Spencer was putting his team through mental situations and the change out of various personnel groups. After the practice I asked Spencer if he was okay with a practice like this in the middle of fall camp and if he was happy with the physicality of the defense.

"Yes, because when we are out there we get after it," answered Spencer. "Our inside/middle drill, our team times, we strain, we strike, and we're competitive. We have tempers flare and if we weren't intense in those times then you'd be worried, but when we go we go extremely hard and there is only so much a body can take.

"At some point I think there is a point of no return in camp with some people and those can get lackadaisical. Our team periods and our inside periods have been unbelievable competitive so far. We're getting a lot of work done."

Gundy says that is why they can do what they did again on Tuesday morning and that be the only work of the day except for a shorter 20 minute special teams walk through after dinner.

"We have a more mature team this year, so we want to be smart in how we handle the players," Gundy added. "We want to be as preventative as possible with the loss of fluids and keeping their shoulders fresh. As I mentioned, after six practices, we've pushed them pretty good.

"Today's a day off (virtually). If you look when we finished yesterday, which was around 10:15 in the morning, and look at when we get back out tomorrow, which will be at 8:45, it's almost 48 hours of recovery. Most of your medical people will tell you that that's a good recovery time for an athlete."

The Cowboys will be back at it on the field Wednesday morning with two workouts scheduled for the day and then Thursday the first scrimmage of the camp. Gundy was asked what he was hoping to see in Thursday's scrimmage, and it will be after the scrimmage that is the next time the media will have a chance to talk to the head coach.

"I want the offense to take care of the ball. I want the defense to force turnovers. I'd like guys lined up in the right spots, playing hard, competing and playing to the speed of the game," Gundy said being fairly simple in his expectations.

"I think we're really comfortable with where we're at X's and O's-wise and on both sides of the ball. We just want guys to compete. We'll have officials at both practices, so it'll give us an idea of where we're at from an officiating standpoint. We just want our guys to play hard."

Camp has really been quick with the practices on Wednesday, scrimmage Thursday, helmets and shoulder pads in one Friday practice, and two-a-days on Saturday and camp concludes. Gundy will give the team off Sunday and Monday to get started with classes on Monday.

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