Cowboys Get Back To Work After Spring Break

Oklahoma State will be back on the practice field this week, and Mike Gundy is looking forward to some physical practices to find out more about his team, specifically the offensive line.

Back on the first day of spring practice Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy said he told his staff that their goal was to have 12 really good practices with their base offense challenging their base defense this spring.

The first three practices the week leading to spring break were classified as productive by the head coach but I don't believe those were the practices that Gundy was targeting for his goal. All three of the practices were in shorts, jerseys, and helmets with limited or no contact. Starting on Tuesday, the pads will be on and the contact begins, and Gundy's intensity is likely to be up as well.

Two of the most important discoveries that need to be made this spring involve solutions that have to come from contact. Those are interior offensive line issues and replacing defensive ends Emmanuel Ogbah and Jimmy Bean, who are both likely to be drafted or at least both in NFL camps this summer. Ogbah is a likely first-round NFL Draft choice in a little over a month.

On the offensive line, I think it is still Victor Salako and Zach Crabtree that will man the tackle positions, but the biggest issues on the offensive line were in the middle, from guard to guard. That is why junior college All-American signee and mid-year addition Larry Williams has been playing guard so far in practice.

But as good as Williams looks it will be in full-contact work that offensive line coach Greg Adkins and the staff as a whole will be able to see what kind of impact he can make. There is also some thought that Williams might experiment some at center where hard playing but undersized Brad Lundblade has been playing. Oklahoma State needs to plug up leaks and the only way to gauge the progress is in full pads and full contact.

The other area of interest that needs some competitive and physical involvement to check on is the young defensive ends. We know that Jarrell Owens, Jordan Brailford and Cole Walterscheid showed up some last season but now they are expected to be the mainstays, and there is a difference.

"They’re still trying to figure that out," defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer said during the first week of practice. "They’re going to have to go through some tough times and we’re going to have to go through some long, scrimmage-type situations this spring and get tested a little bit.

"You can’t really tell a lot when everything is going good. We’re going to put them in some tough situations to try to find out what our character is and what we’re made of; so right now that’s an unknown, and I told them that. That’s what we have to find out. This group has got to find its identity. They’ve got to find that heartbeat. That’s going to allow them to accomplish good things and that’s a work in process."

Spencer seems fired up because there won't be much waiting to get after it this coming week. As usual, Gundy will let strength and conditioning coach Rob Glass and his staff welcome the players back from the break on Monday before getting them back on the practice field after they settle back into the routine on Tuesday. Over the years it's been learned that Monday after the break often produces less than focused practices.  

"We'reputting pads on that first Tuesday when we get back, so there will be a lot of emphasis on block disengagement and making tackles, so it will be a lot more physical-type practices, which is good. We can start playing some real football, and that will separate some guys too, guys who can naturally strike and get off blocks close to the ball and who can operate under a lot of stress and chaos. That’s what we’re trying to feed them when we get back," Spencer explained.

What Gundy wants to see is answers to the important questions and those two issues, interior offensive line, offensive line overall and the defensive ends are two of the biggest. There are others and we will hit on those as well.

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