Spring Football: Cowboys Return After Break

Oklahoma State had a first-team visitor – new basketball coach Brad Underwood – when the Cowboys returned to the practice field Tuesday for the first time after taking a week off for spring break.

Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy was laughing a little with a group early in practice as the he was hearing some of the fallout from his comments about the Longhorn Network to CBS Sports and internet columnist Dennis Dodd. As you can read on gopokes.com, Gundy has been consistent in his thoughts and comments on the Longhorns television exposure through the ESPN devised Longhorn Network and the lack of exposure for the rest of the schools in the conference.

However, today it was more important to see his football team get after it in its first practice in full pads and the first practice since spring break. It was good as the squad battled through a near three-hour practice that included a lot of drills, fundamentals and then some real physical work with the offensive and defensive line in pass pro, the offense and defense minus receivers and corners in a spirited inside drill. The outside players did some one-on-one work and then some seven-on-seven.

Offensive line coach Greg Adkins wasn't overwhelmed with how it went.

"Actually, not very good to be honest with you," Adkins answered OSU athletic media relations after practice. "It was the first day in pads and coming off spring break, I thought we were a little lethargic. I thought our first three practices we were sharp and crisp and moving around. I thought today with the pads coming on we lost some technique up front; eyes not being in the right spot. We need to improve from day one to day two in pads like I thought we did last week when we were in no pads."

In the pass pro drill the offensive line had a lot of success. But then on the inside drill the defense, led by defensive tackle Vincent Taylor and the play of linebackers Chad Whitener and Gyasi Akem, had highlights. Those situations are usually a lot of give and take. One offensive linemen to watch that seems to be developing rapidly is redshirt freshman Marcus Keyes. Number 75 is really starting to have some success and it is noticeable.

"I thought Marcus Keyes has done some really nice things," Adkins said of the still first-year player. "Again, he's been in the program for a year. He's heard my voice in the meetings for a year, so I think he's further along when it comes to that process. I think Larry's [William] situation is one that we've got to continue to harp on all the little things because he doesn't know anything, so every day is a learning curve for him. But I like his attitude and I like where he's at."

The offensive line is working hard at developing as everybody concerned knows how critical it is.

"I think the thing that happened last year was it was a trial by tribulation as the season was going on. What exactly were we going to be? Are we going to throw the ball a little bit more? Are we going to run inside zone or outside zone? I don't think we ever got real good at anything running the football last year," Adkins continued. "This spring we've focused in and narrowed our focus down in the running game and then obviously from a protection standpoint."

In the passing drills Mason Rudolph looked sharp despite coming off the spring break and receivers James Washington, Marcell Ateman, Chris Lacy, and Jhajuan Seales all had big catches on deep balls. Blake Jarwin had several catches outside and in the hash seam to move the chains.

Practices are closed so we have to be careful on information but it is safe to say that this practice was a jump up from the non-contact workouts before spring break, and Gundy is shooting for 12 strong practices including the Saturday, April 16 (1 p.m.) spring game as one of those.

New Hoops Coach Underwood Takes in Some Pigskin

It turns out that new basketball coach Brad Underwood is a football fan, and he took in some of the Cowboys spring practice on Tuesday while taking a break from getting his feet on the ground and getting settled in.

Underwood did a lot of frequent flying the last 48 hours as he flew back to Nacogdoches, Texas with his Stephen F. Austin team on Sunday night after losing to Notre Dame 76-75 in the NCAA Tournament second round. Underwood got up Monday and flew to Stillwater on a private jet and then flew back late that afternoon to meet with his Lumberjacks team and hold a good-bye press conference at SFA. After that he flew back to Stillwater, spent the night at Karsten Creek, and then hit the ground running on Tuesday with meetings, including individual meetings with current players.

The general characterization of those meetings was they were good. It appears the players are on board. Underwood chatted with several football staffers and visitors before heading back to Gallagher-Iba Arena where tomorrow fans are invited to welcome the new coach to OSU. That event, which will also allow for media questions, will begin at 1:30 p.m. on the floor of the historic arena.

First impression is that Underwood is friendly, likes meeting people, seems very good at adjusting to a new home and environment, but he also has that imposing presence that screams you wouldn't want to be going against him. I like that. Needless to say it has been a hectic stretch for the new coach that will continue this weekend as he heads to New York City to be in studio at CBS for some of their NCAA Tournament coverage. A nice opportunity to get some visibility in his new role as Oklahoma State head coach.

Walk-on QB Nyc Burns Watches Future Team

Tulsa Berryhill product Nyc Burns and his dad were at the Cowboys Tuesday practice. Burns is a preferred walk-on quarterback set to join the Cowboys this summer. The 6-4  and now 180-pound Burns is working on getting bigger and filling out his frame. He is also working hard on his quarterbacking mechanics in private teaching sessions with former Tulsa and Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Paul Smith, an excellent teacher whjo has worked with a number of good quarterbacks. Last season, his first as a starting quarterback, Burns completed 64 percent of his passes for 2,890 yards with 35 touchdowns and just 9 interceptions. He also rushed for 706 yards and 11 touchdowns.

Pat Jones, Charlie Johnson Among Practice Visitors

Charlie Johnson is really kind of a regular as the former Cowboy and nine-year NFL veteran offensive lineman with the Indianapolis Colts and Minnesota Vikings is helping out the Stillwater coaching staff. Johnson loves the game and likes being around and today reminisced some with both former Oklahoma State head coach and NFL assistant Pat Jones and former OSU offensive guard and his tight ends coach at OSU, new Cowboys offensive analyst Josh Henson.

Henson is settling in well. He actually started his first game as a collegian for Pat Jones in his last season as Cowboys head coach in a win at Northern Illinois. Jones was an interested observer doing research for his radio show in Tulsa. Jones said he saw a lot of team speed from the Cowboys, was impressed with the way Mason Rudolph is progressing, physically and on the field. Jones really likes receiver James Washington, but who doesn't. He also noticed like us the improvement of Marcus Keyes on the offensive line. Another player that caught his eye was Derrick Moncrief, the Auburn transfer safety that will be eligible this fall, 

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