Gridiron notes: Tuesday practice report

Les Miles put the Cowboys through a three-hour workout that had moments of fire, lots of conditioning, and may have set them up for a mini-scrimmage on Wednesday afternoon.


STILLWATER -- What was a fairly quiet practice picked up a short emotional spurt when the Cowboys coaches started running toward the upper field on the hedge field yelling, "live, live." The first team offense and defense went four plays fully live including tackling and the second units followed with three plays of full contact football. It was the most emotion seen on the field in the last several days despite the fact that a number of front line players were again missing because of nagging injuries. Still, head coach Les Miles is looking for more fire out of his squad.

"We got some things accomplished, and there was a lot of teaching," said Miles after the workout. "The tempo of our workouts is still not where I like it to be. That's going to have to pick up."

Miles is likely to see it tomorrow as we have learned a Big 12 officiating crew has been summoned to Stillwater tomorrow afternoon which can only mean some sort of scrimmage is on tap. It's not likely to be an extensive scrimmage as that activity is planned for Saturday afternoon on Lewis Field. Some of the injured players are expected back tomorrow and they can be glad they missed the capper of Tuesday's three hour practice which was a lengthy conditioning set that had the players pretty spent as they trudged back to the locker room complex of The Athletic Center.

"Where going to be a team that is going to run," said Miles sounding more like a college basketball coach. "We are going to condition."

Twice during the workout the Cowboys first and second offense and first and second defense split up to go against scout units and work on some material that they are expected to see in the opener against Nebraska. These mini sessions are starting to become more frequent and last longer. Judging from the sessions the defense is expecting to see a lot of the traditional fare from the Huskers on offense including option, but they are also working against some multiple short passing game material.

The offense is working against multiple fronts and coverages with a lot of cover two in the secondary including rolling the secondary toward Rashaun Woods.

Because of the missing defenders the offense had the advantage again on Tuesday. Tailbacks Tatum Bell and Seymore Shaw were missing on offense, but they just gave Vernand Morency, Greg Jones, and Greg Gold a chance to shine. Morency broke thew the defense off left tackle on the first play and went the distance. The former minor league baseball player then off the block of right guard Sam Mayes through a huge hole for nine-yards. Clay Coe scored one for the defense as he made a good stop on fullback Tim Burrough for a four-yard gain, but then left guard Chris Akin had a picture perfect trap block that sprung Morency for another sizeable pickup.

On his first carry, Greg Gold went off another big block, this one by backup left guard Caleb Noble, for a long distance run. However, the next play defensive end Khreem Smith came flying off his blocker and wrapped up Gold for a two-yard loss. Gold and Morency each broke another run each, and backup fullback Shawn Willis had a powerful five-yard pickup up the middle.

The fiesty live session we mentioned in the opening segment consisted of only seven plays, but the emotion came pouring out on the first play. Quarterback Josh Fields fired a pass to Rashaun Woods on a short post route that flew a little too high and Woods could only tip it. Behind Woods, cornerback Darrent Williams snagged the interception and then took off for the endzone only to bang into and off of fullback Tim Burrough. Several first team defenders came back and started talking smack with Burough and both sides really got into it before being yelled to get back in the huddle. The next play Fields and Woods got it right as Fields zipped a 15-yard out to an open Woods.

Vernand Morency had a really good day of practice as he took a lot of reps with Bell and Shaw sidelined. Morency picked up nine-yards with a quick burst and a strong move past the line of scrimmage. The first team's live session ended with Fields hitting Morency, who again showed his speed, picking up 15-yards on the screen pass.

In the live session with the second units defensive end Trumain Carroll and defensive tackle Kent Townsend stopped Gold for a two-yard gain, and the defense pulled off another highlight when defensive end Darnell Smith sacked backup quarterback Jamie Beeghley.

It's still lengthy, but there is good news. Wide receiver D'Juan Woods (knee), defensive end Khreem Smith (knee), and defensive end Antonio Smith (strained bicep) were back today in practice. Tailback Tatum Bell (hamstring) and Seymore Shaw (ankle) are not considered serious and should be back soon. Linebacker Paul Duren says he is improving and thinks he will be back before long. Other good news is that freshman tailback Calvin Roberts was out of the training room on the sidelines with ice on his knee. The injury happened Saturday morning, and the report is it is not serioud enough to require surgery. Weak safety Charlie Ward should be back soon off his knee injury.

The only bad news is that freshman linebacker Victor DeGrate has reinjured his hamstring, and standout freshman defensive tackle Xavier Lawson-Kennedy again missed practice with a swollen knee. Lawson-Kennedy is still lifting weights and getting treatment, but he needs the conditioning of being out there. Other injuries include tight end Billy Bajema (hamstring), linebacker Josh Wheeler (ankle), defensive tackle Marcus Craig (unknown), defensive tackle Kyle Hix (shoulder), and offensive guard Doug Bond (elbow). None of those are real serious and all of those players should be back in practice soon.

With some open places for players on the preseason camp 105 man roster, wide receiver Josh Letourneau has reported to camp. Letourneau originally was not scheduled to report until the start of classes next week.

One of the more spirited matchups so far in practice took place this afternoon in the pro pass drill involving the offensive and defensive linemen. Defensive tackle Clay Coe was matched up against offensive right guard Sammy Mayes. The two veterans both have a healthy mean streak in their makeupfor the game. The first time they went Mayes got the best of Coe putting him on the ground and then leaning on top of him. Coe got up very angry and told Mayes not to get on top of him again. The two threw some verbal volleys at each other and then it died down.

When they came back again in the rotation the two players were waiting to go again. This time Coe stayed up and made an effective rush at the dummy representing the quarterback. Offensive line coach Chuck Moller barked for the same two to go again, and this time Mayes put Coe on the ground again and leaned on his just a littl bit. Coe got to his feet quickly and jumped in Mayes' face but Moller quickly barked at Coe tha Mayes had to lean on him a little and the defensive tackle backed off and went back to his teammates on the other side of the line of scrimmage.

When the drill was over, as he was walking by, Mayes said, why does everyone want to pick a fight with me?"

Not nearly as violent, but probably a close second in spirit was the Democratic Presidential candidates forum going on in The Athletic Center while the Cowboys went through their only practice of the day on Tuesday afternoon. Democrats like Lieberman, Gephart, and Sharpton were attacking by words indoors, while the Cowboys got physical on the hedge field.

Oddly enough, none of the democratic candidates wondered next door to check out football practice or to try and steal a media or photo op by greeting the Cowboys. Head coach Les Miles certainly couldn't speak for his entire staff and his players, but Miles' political views lean to the right as a conservative. He probably would not have appreciated any candidate interupting his practice. Miles joked that he might have to put a "Cowboys for Bush" sign at the hedge field entrance to keep any democratic candidates out.

The Cowboys will be back in the two-a-day routine on Wednesday with a two hour morning practice at 8:26 a.m. followed by another two hour session at 4:16 p.m. With the Cowboys doing only a little hitting on Tuesday, and with a number of players due to be back from injury in practice on Wednesday there is speculation that Miles and the staff will have at least a mini scrimmage in the afternoon practice. The morning workout is lon Lewis Field and is open to the public, while the afternoon practice will be on the hedge field and closed to the public. Below is the schedule for the remainder of preseason camp which concludes with an open scrimmage on Lewis Field on Saturday at 3 p.m.

Wednesday, Aug.13 Full 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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