STILLWATER – You could sense it a little on Friday at the Sherman Smith Training Center as Oklahoma State, like so many other college football teams in the country, is in the home stretch for the first game of the 2015 season.
In fact, the Cowboys will have Saturday off and may get as much out of that right now as another day on the practice field. You can't help it, players have been at it most of the summer in conditioning and strength practices and then after a week off back for the start of fall camp and that has been going on for a month. There are still three days of practice and a walk thru to go before kickoff on Thursday night at Central Michigan.
"I'm ready. I'm tired of practicing," senior middle linebacker Ryan Simmons said on Thursday. "I'm just ready to get out there with my brothers and start my very last season. It's a great time for us and I'm just glad to have the opportunity to play one more season."
You could tell the approach in practice on Friday was different. Indoors with the offense in the Sherman Smith Training Center the attitude and the discussion was more technical in nature, more defining as the offense continues to work on execution of the plays and the game plan for the game with the Chippewas. It's interesting to watch even the steps of the offensive linemen as they strive to get it right.
On the outdoor turf field next to the Smith Center the decibel level was climbing some as the defensive staff was seeking intensity and aggressiveness heading into the game at Central Michigan.
Heck, the coaches are also anxious.
"Everyone in the nation is that way," defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer said. "The last week of practice is just pulling teeth sometimes. That’s when you have to rely on some seniors and guys that have been around. There will be a lot of emotions, but usually that goes away after the first series. All that pre-game hype, it’s expected. That’s why it’s such a great game, right?"
Getting to that now would be a reward, but it is still almost a week away.While Saturday is a day off that should benefit the players and give them a chance to relax, Sunday and Monday will be the regular Tuesday and Wednesday practices of a game week and those are the heavy days.
The reward is so close and while each player is looking forward to it, the excitement of Michigan native and junior linebacker Devante Averette, who has gone through a year of double shifts at UPS near Detroit, two years at Ellsworth (Iowa) Community College, and a torn ACL before he could get on the field last fall at OSU you can understand how excited he is. The work and practice is just the barrier he is breaking down one day at a time.
"I feel grateful and humbled that I got to this place. I came here for a job, to help Oklahoma State win a national championship," Averette said. "I saw when we played Florida State what kind of team we could have when everyone is healthy and on the same page. I feel like we could make it all the way this year."
Thankfully, it will start in six days and with close to 80 friends and family members in the stands at Kelly/Shorts Stadium supporting Averette and the Cowboys.