Gridiron notes: Monday practice report

The offense had the better day as the defense was depleted by injuries during the two practices on Monday at Oklahoma State. The situation with linebacker Paul Duren was overblown by Internet message boards as Duren was back on campus Monday morning and participated in rehab during practice.

Monday, August 11


STILLWATER -- The Cowboys got in two workouts in great weather on Monday and according to head coach Les Miles got a lot accomplished. The team worked a lot of situations in team drills while still spending a good portion of time on drill work to sharpen position skills.

"We got a lot done," said head coach Les Miles. "We're still in installation. We're still working on different situations, long yardage, first and 10 throwing. It was a good day, and we're still getting better. We had a good morning and a very productive day."

The news from practice was overshadowed by two situations with players. Over the weekend walkon backup center Bryon Machado left the team. Machado was wanting to be put on scholarship, and when notified that wasn't going to happen immediately he decided to quit the squad.

Starting linebacker Paul Duren went home to Del City following the Sunday practice, but after talking to his parents and to head coach Les Miles, Duren returned to the team on Monday and participated in the workouts. Duren, who led the Cowboys in tackles as a redshirt freshman last season, suffered a pulled hamstring late in the summer conditioning program. He rehabbed the injury and worked out the first day of fall camp before aggravating the injury running sprints that first day. Duren had been unable to work out since that reinjury on Monday a week ago. Like many athletes who are injured he was feeling down and like he was letting his teammates down. According to reports Miles assured Duren he was a valuable member of the squad and that his position would be waiting for him to reclaim as soon as he was healthy. The situation was compounded by rumors on the internet, which only made the situation worse as Duren was trying to work through his frustration.

"I don't really want to comment on that. I don't think it's a story," said Miles. Every guy on this team makes the decision at some point in time, to or not to," Miles did say of Machado's departure and Duren's return to camp. "I think they make it every day, and I think it just took Paul (Duren) a little longer to make that decision on one day. It's the job of the head coach to know his players and listen to them. I just lent an ear more than anything while he made the decision he wanted to make. Football is not for everybody."

The main team period in the morning practice emphasized "coming out" for the offense. The offense starts inside their own five-yard-line and has to break out. The defense tries to pin them in and force them to punt or get a turnover. The defense had their share of success, but the offense had several breakouts. Josh Fields hit Rashaun Woods with a pinpoint pass that Woods caught despite double coverage for a 27-yard gain. Fields also hit Errick McCown with a pass in traffic, but the speedster trying to earn a job at wide receiver broke past the defense and turned on his jets for a 94-yard touchdown.

The other breakouts were much more physical and involved the fullbacks. Tim Burrough caught a pair of screen passes that went for first downs. On one of the screens, Burrough turned up field and flat ran over cornerback Darrent Williams. Some onlookers wondered if Williams had an imprint of Burrough's cleats on his chest.

"It was a big play," said Burrough. "I don't want to do any talking because today was my day and tomorrow may be Darrent's day. I am getting more physical with the position, I'm really growing into it. I feel like the fullbakc is going to get the ball more. Shawn (Willis) and I come out here and make plays and when you make plays then they call your number more often."

Backup fullback Shawn Willis also caught a screen pass that he turned into a first down to break the offense out of the shadow of the goal post.

Nothing real earthshattering, but Fields was throwing the ball especially sharp today. His passes had a lot of zip, and on several occasions he did a real good job of splitting defenders. Just an observation that Fields arm is holding up well in preseason camp, and he seems to throw better each day.

The offense gets the nod on the inside drill on Monday as the defense was definitely effected by some of the injured players. Tatum Bell came out and powered his way to gains of four, four, two, and five-yards on the first four carries. The two-yard carry was halted on a good combo stop by defensive tackle Mike Williams and linebacker Lawrence Pinson. However, four-yards or more is a good play on inside drill where the defense is bunched up to stop the run. The unfortunate thing was that Bell fumbled on his fifth carry.

On his third carry against the second team defense Seymore Shaw burst through a hole on the right side of the line and took it to the house. On five carries Shaw went all the way and then had 18-yards on his other four carries. Another unfortunate play had Shaw turning an ankle, although it did not appear to be serious. Shaw, however, did not return to the practice after the injury.

Tatum Bell broke a run off left tackle for the distance, and Greg Gold came in to get some reps and proceeded to break two runs into the secondary, the first one Gold used a pancake block by left guard Chris Akin on defensive end Jerry Don Bray.

Some of the defenders that got some reps and showed up some included freshman lineman Marque Fountain, walkon lineman Kent Townsend, and walkon lineman Eric Von Holt.

The afternoon team session featured situation with the defense in various blitzes and bluffs to confuse the offense. The offense countered with a good dose of screens and short pass plays mixed in with an occasional long strike. On the third play of the live team work, quarterback Josh Fields found Rashaun Woods deep on a post route and Woods made the catch over Darrent Williams for a 55-yard gain.

Other big plays during the work included a Fields pass down the left sideline to fullback Tim Burrough for 25-yards, Fields hit Woods with a 20-yard fade route to the right side, and then came back and connected with Woods for a seam route as the pass split defenders for a 25-yard gain. Vernand Morency had a 31-yard run sprung on a nice block by Kellen Davis at right tackle. Tatum Bell had two carries for 24-yards, and Gabe Lindsay caught two passes for 23-yards. The defense had it's highlights too. Defensive tackle Clay Coe and strong safety Fath' Carter each had a sack, and freshman cornerback Ricky Coxeff picked off a Jamie Beeghley pass and returned it for a touchdown.

It was good today. In the morning everything was perfect as kickers Luke Phillips and Brent Baisden hit all their attempts until a high snap through the timing off the final attempt from 52-yards and the kick was short and to the left.

In the afternoon the field goal unit started out with a speed field goal coming off the sideline and then executed a nifty fake flawlessly. Back to the kicking their were two high snaps from deep snapper Jacob Dressen, but holder Sky Rylant handled both of them and got them down. Phillips went three for three hitting from 27, 36, and 47-yards. Baisden hit both his tries as he connected from 32 and 42-yards.

Cole Farden continues to boom the ball on his punts, but most of the work was on punt returns as special team coach Joe DeForest threw simulated punts to Gabe Lindsay and Darrent Williams as the punt return unit worked on forming their blocks for different returns.

The list remains long as linebacker Paul Duren (hamstring), receiver D'Juan Woods (knee), receiver John Wohglemuth (knee), defensive tackle Kyle Hicks (shoulder), defensive end Antonio Smith (strained bicep muscle), freshman defensive tackle Xavier Lawson-Kennedy (swollen knee), and linebacker Glenn Jackson (unknown) all completely sat out practice. weak safety Charlie Ward was icing his sprained knee, but he said he thought he would be back on Wednesday. Seymore Shaw missed the rest of practice after spraining his ankle in the inside drill. Defensive end Khreem Smith and offensive guard Doug Bond particpated on a mimited basis, but offensive lineman Sam Mayes was back going full in the workouts today.

Head coach Les Miles said the injuries are a problem, but not an unexpected problem.

"Every year in two-a-days you come from where we're in great shape to then you go start hitting," said Miles of the injuries. "You get bumped and bruised and you're running and it's two-a-days. Every year it's hamstrings, quad pulls, ankles, necks, stingers, and then 10 days into two-a-days that thing kind of settles down and you get used to contact. The sooner you get them used to contact then the sooner it settles down."

One of the interesting situations to watch will be how the offensive line shakes out. Today offensive line coach Chuck Moller made a few moves with players in the line. The first team offensive line had Matt Hardison at left tackle, Chris Akin at left guard, Ben Buie at center, Sam Mayes at right guard, and Kellen Davis at right tackle. Corey Curtis had been playing the right guard position with Mayes at right tackle. Today Curtis ran left guard on the second unit. The rest of the second team line included Jon Hayhurst at left tackle and Kurt Seifried replacing Bryon Machado at center. Machado, a sophomore walkon decided to quit the team over the weekend. Caleb Noble was on the second team line at right guard, and true freshman Coey Hilliard was at right tackle.

Doug Bond remains out with an injury. Moller is trying to discover whether the line is stronger with Mayes at guard and Davis at tackle or with Mayes at tackle and one of the guards playing in at right guard. Mayes doesn't get a vote, but he has been hoping that one of the tackles will be impressive so he can stay at the position that he started at last season, right guard.

At one point during the afternoon practice offensive coordinator Mike Gundy yelled at Director of Football Operations Mack Butler, "hey, where are my hashmarks?" Gundy was referring to the lack of hashmarks on the upper practice field on the hedge field where the Cowboys practice in the aftternoon. Butler walked over and explained to Mike that the grounds crew that painted the two fields painted the defensive field first and when they got to the upper field which belongs to the offense they ran out of paint after they got the lines down.

That caused Gundy to respond, "I sure hope we don't lose up at Nebraska because we have trouble lining up on offense because we ran out of paint and didn't have hashmarks on our practice field.

The Cowboys will only practice once on Tuesday to comply with the new NCAA rulkes regarding preseason football practice. The lone workout will be at 4:20 p.m. During the morning the players and staff will eat breakfast from 6:35 a.m. until 7:10 a.m. Injured players will begin treatments at 7:20 a.m. There will be a team meeting at 8:35 a.m. and then at 8:45 a.m. the players will begin morning meetings and weightlifting sessions. Lunch is at 11:30 a.m.and then preparations for practice begin at 2:00 p.m.

Here is a schedule of the remaining practices during preseason camp.

Tuesday, Aug. 12 Full Squad Practice 4:20pm-7:00pm (closed)
Wednesday, Aug.13Full Squad Practice 8:26am-10:34am (open)
Full Squad Practice 4:16pm-6:45pm (closed)
Thursday, Aug. 14 Full Squad Practice 4:20pm-7:00pm (closed)
Friday, Aug. 15 Full Squad Practice 8:26am-10:34am (open)
Full Squad Practice 4:16pm-6:35pm (closed)
Saturday, Aug. 16 Full Squad Mock Game 3:20pm-6:00pm (open)
Sunday, Aug. 17 Full Squad Practice 7:20pm-9:10pm (closed)
School starts on Monday, Aug. 18 and all practices are closed!

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