Gridiron notes: Wednesday practice report

Defense was the heavy side in the Cowboys first scrimmage that also included some offensive highlights, several provided by All American wide receiver Rashaun Woods. It was a starting point and Les Miles expects improvement on Saturday.

2003 Oklahoma State Football Practice Report Wednesday, August 12 DEFENSE AHEAD OF OFFENSE IN 91 PLAY SCRIMMAGE STILLWATER -- The Cowboy offense was missing a trio of weapons that were sitting out with minor injuries and that was enough to give the defense an edge in a 91 play, two and a half hour scrimmage held in nearly perfect conditions for August on Lewis Field. The offense was not without it's moments in the primarily situational session, but overall it was the defense that stood out most often with some very aggressive play, solid play in the interior line, and sure tackling.

"I think the defense is further ahead than the offense,: said head coach Les Miles after witnessing the entire scrimmage out on the field. "I think they run to the ball well. I think they are tckling better. We are having a difficult job of controling the middle of the defensive line."

It's really no surprise that two of the most spectacular highlights by the offense involved veteran quarterback Josh Fields hooking up with All American wide receiver Rashaun Woods. Fields completed 14-of-27 passes with no interceptions, 202-yards, and four touchdowns in primarily in red zone situations. Rashaun Woods led all wide receivers with four recpetions for 65-yards. Woods would have had a sure touchdown if Vernon Grant hadn't committed pass interference in the endzone on a play early in the scrimmage. The two most spectacular of Woods' receptions came on a 30-yard connection from Fields in which Woods was covered tightly but made a one-handed grab on the ball. The second big catch came on a 28-yard fade that Woods made the adjustment on for the catch. The second catch led to a score in what was really the offense's finest series of the scrimmage during a two minute situation.

"Offense did some things well, they just didn't put it all together today," said Miles. On the two minute drill we went to long yardage and Rashaun made the play and then the offense started clicking. The things that happened in that two minute drill are the things that need to hapen for us to be successful in that sequence."

On the next play after Woods 28-yard catch, Fields hit Vernand Morency out of the backfield for a 37-yard touchdown. The first team offense scored twice during the two minute drill. They also punched in a three touchdowns during the goal line scrimmage. It was encouraging to see so many players catch the football including backs and receivers like D'Juan Woods and Chijuan Mack.

"There's no doubt that we're going to hae some guys, Chijuan Mack had a touchdon cath today and D'Juan and Gabe, those two guys are really stepping up as well," said quarterback Josh Fields of the receivers other than his favorite in Rashaun. "gabe is really coming off his injury well, and I think is going to surprise a bunch of people this year."

The situations worked on during the scrimmage included coming off the goal line, first downs, red zone, goal line, and two minute drill. It was almost exclusively first teams going against each other and second teams battling each other. The Cowboys defense against the run was impressive as they allowed just two runs of 10-yards or more and the majority of the running plays netted four-yards or less. Safeties were involved in a number of the tackles as first teamers Thomas Wright, Elbert Craig, and Fath' Carter combined for seven tackles. The second trio of safeties Chase Holland, Jamar Ransom, and Jon Holland along with Jamie Thompson and Jeremy Nethon had a total of 12 tackles. Starting free safety Thomas Wright said he was primed to coming up and making tackles on the running plays.

"It's a good thing," said Wright. "I love to play and that is what I like to do."

Other defensive highlights included two sacks as Greg Richmond sacked Fields for a four-yard loss and freshman defensive end Marques Fountain also trapped Fields for a three-yard sack. There were several tackles for losses and two really big hits, one by Jon Holland on a Greg Jones run and the other by big defensive tackle Mike Williams on a plunge up the middle. There were two interceptions, both thrown by Beeghley and both during work in the two minute drill, as freshman corner Ricky Coxeff picked off a pass and safety Jamie Thompson stole the final pass on the final play of the scrimmage.

"We've just got our minds set that we are not going to hae that (give up a lot of passing yards)," said Wright. "We are going to lock everything down this year and try to be the best secondary OSU has ever had."

The defensive interior manned on the first team by Clay Coe and Mike Williams combined for eight tackles and linebacker Lawrence Pinson added another four stops. Miles was very happy about the play inside on defense.

"The defensive line appears to be a strong factor on this football team," added Miles.

Miles downplayed the minor injuries that kept several players including Tatum Bell, Seymore Shaw, and Billy Bajema from participating in the scrimmage. Linebacker Paul Duren was missing on the defensive side. The scrimmage was worked by a full officiating crew of Big 12 officials. There weren't a lot of flags, but enough to frustrate the head coach in certain situations. One penalty nullified a Greg Gold touchdown run, and in the special teams work another penalty brough back a spectacular kickoff return by Robert Jones. The return game was another highlight as Gabe Lindsay on punt returns and Jones on kickoff returns were especially dazzling.

"We have a number of fast, active return guys," said Miles with a smile on his face. "It will be interesting to see whose number actually gets called with that."

When the Cowboys return to Lewis Field on Saturay for the major scrimmage of the preseason the offense will try to improve on their performance and quarterback Josh Fields is confident the offense is better going into this season than it was last year, and that the offense will be better come Saturday.

"The defense did pretty well early last year (in scrimmages), but the offense, as a whole, we know more," said Fields. "People are getting in the right places, the offensive line is getting to the right people, so that is a lot better start for us."

And, afterall, nobody really should complain about the Cowboy defense flexing their muscles. It was concern over that side of the ball that most fans have been talking about heading into this season. Some of the Cowboy defenders like Vernon Grant like to do a lot of talking, but Wright said most of the Cowboy defenders are ready to hit first and talk later. They did that on Saturday.



SCRIMMAGE STATISTICS
Rushing
Greg Jones 18-64-yds.;

Shawn Willis 4-18-yds.;

Greg Gold 8-11-yds.;

Vernand Morency 7-9-yds,

1td; Jamie Beeghley 4-5-yds, 1td;

Tim Burrough 2-2-yds


Passing
Josh Fields 14-27-0 int, 202-yds, 4td;
Jamie Beeghley 10-17-2 int, 49-yds.

Receiving

Rashaun Woods 4-65-yds.;

Vernand Morency 4-40-yds., 1td;

Tim Burrough 2-33-yds.;

D'Juan Woods 4-31-yds, 1td;

Gabe Lindsay 2-21-yds., 1td;

Chijuan Mack 3-18-yds, 1td;

Greg Gold 3-14-yds.;

Kenny Williams 1-10-yds.;

Tommy Devereaux 1-5-yds.

Interceptions
Ricky Coxeff 1;

Jamie Thompson 1

Sacks
Greg Richmond 1;
Marques Fountain 1
Tackles
Jamar Ransom 5; Mike Williams 5; Lawrence Pinson 4; Robert Jones 4; Clay Coe 3; Greg Richmond 3; Jon Holland 3; Fath' Carter 3; Glen Jackson 3; Thomas Wright 2; Trumain Carroll 2; Ricky Coxeff 2; Jeremy Nethon 2; Daniel McLemore 2; 12 players with 1 tackle
NEXT MAJOR SCRIMMAGE ON SATURDAY
The Cowboys will have just one practice tomorrow afternoon, a closed session that begins at 4:00 p.m. They will have their final day of two-a-days on Friday and then conduct a major scrimmage or mock game, open to the public, at 3:00 p.m. on Saturday at Lewis Field. Below is the remaining schedule for preseason camp.
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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