STILLWATER – Less than 15 hours since walking off the practice field Saturday afternoon following their first full scrimmage of the preseason, the Oklahoma State Cowboys were back at it Sunday morning for the final practice of fall camp.
Let's be clear, it is really August or summer camp but it prepares you for the fall and in the absence of any two-a-day practices this 12th practice was more of a test of discipline and drive as the Cowboys had to get back out there after a scrimmage and close out with a good practice. The contact was light, but they still got after it some.
"I think, coming off the scrimmage yesterday, there were some things that we needed to get corrected," offensive line coach Greg Adkins said. "For the most part, we got those things corrected, but trying to put consecutive days together of doing the right things that we're looking for is the most central part of where we're headed."
One player that impressed on Saturday afternoon was impressive again on Sunday with several big plays in the running game. Tulsa Booker T. Washington and All-State running back Justice Hill has been good all throughout camp.
Our Deion Imade, a former Oklahoma State linebacker and safety and special teams captain, was impressed with what he saw on Saturday. Imade had seen Hill a couple of times last season in his broadcasting assignments for high school and knew the 5-10, 180-pound Hill had 198 carries for 1,948 rushing yards and 32 touchdowns, but that doesn't always translate to the next level, at least not right away. Imade was impressed and said it looked like Hill wanted to play.
Head coach Mike Gundy is famous for using early scrimmages to throw freshman running backs in and see if they might be ready. The list of those freshmen includes Kendall Hunter, Keith Toston and Joseph Randle. Gundy did the same to Hill on Saturday as he played some with the first team offense and against the first team defense and showed up well.
Now for a young running back or any running back to do well he has to have an offensive line working hard in front of him and Adkins was asked after the Sunday practice how he feels that offensive line is coming along, especially after being able to review a scrimmage.
"It's better than it has been. We've got some younger guys coming along," Adkins said. "Marcus Keyes continues to play there. Larry (Williams) has been back in there after being out for a few days. We've moved Mike Wilson, and we're playing him at center. We're creating some depth and some competition."
Just as many have noticed, left tackle Victor Salako is much better because he is healthy and he is in better shape after his work this offseason and summer with Rob Glass and his staff.
"I think if you just look at him, the way he's transformed his body in a year since arriving here is the most important thing," Adkins added. "He's healthy, he's lost weight, he's moving better, so I'm really happy with what he's done the first two weeks of camp."
A major piece to the puzzle of the offensive line improving could be the move of Marcus Keyes into the left guard position.
"The first five or six days, he was playing left tackle, but we made a decision to put him in at guard and we haven't looked back since," Adkins said. "Seven days now of playing left guard, and each and every day is a learning experience for anybody playing a new position. I think he's handled it fairly well."
It appears the Cowboys came out of the scrimmage in good health as everybody was good to go on Sunday.
A lot has been accomplished, but a lot more is needed to be accomplished before Oklahoma State opens the regular season at home with Southeastern Louisiana at 2:30 p.m. on Sept. 3. The Cowboys play their first three games at home this season for the first time since 2010.
Monday is the first day of classes at Oklahoma State and Gundy will give the team off. Practice will resume in the regular afternoon schedule starting on Tuesday.