Practice Report 8 - Time To Put On The Pads

The Oklahoma State varsity went through a cool two hour, 40 minute practice in Boone Pickens Stadium on Thursday night. That practice ends the split squad workouts as tomorrow afternoon at 3:30 p.m. the entire squad will come together for the first time this preseason and go through the first full pad practice.

"I'm glad, we've been able to get a lot of work in this week with the two groups (newcomers and varsity) going through the same practices, and we've been able to get in a lot of coaching with a lot of different players," said head coach Les Miles. "The last two days have been better because we've had contact. It is really hard to assimilate football without contact. We've done a lot with the shells (helmet and shoulder pads) on the last two days. Tomorrow with full pads won't be much different."

Miles added that the team will do some live work on Saturday, and then hold mini-scimmages on Tuesday, Thursday, Friday morning, and a major situational scrimmage next Saturday.

As for the workout Thursday, the emphasis was on the running game with a long inside drill and a long team period that focused on running the football. The offensive line performed well as they were consistently allowing running backs to get three to four yards off the line before meeting defensive resistance. That was the first team offensive unit as tailbacks Greg Jones and Vernand Morency had several really good runs. There was no tackling as defenders just had to stop the runner. Morency had more reps than in any earlier practice this week.

Quarterback Donovan Woods was effective running the football as well. The first team offensive line – consisting of left tackle Corey Hilliard, left guard Doug Bond, center Chris Akin, right guard Sam Mayes and right tackle Kellen Davis – used help from tight ends Billy Bajema and Charlie Johnson along with fullback Shawn Willis to get their job done.

The second team offense also had some success with Greg Gold running the ball and quarterback Jamie Beeghley is a surprising runner. He had several solid efforts. The second team offense featured a couple of newbies to the afternoon as freshmen tight ends Brandon Pettigrew and Justin Waller switched to the afternoon. Joining them was linebacker Roderick Johnson, who had also been working in the morning with the newcomers.

"Don't read anything into that," Miles said after the practice. "It was purely a situation of personnel and getting the players we needed in the afternoon, so we could conduct the practice the way we needed too. Now those young tight ends are talented and they did a good job of stepping in and doing what was expected. Yes, Roderick Johnson is talented and I was impressed, he made a lot of plays out there today."

Johnson was the leading tackler in the team period. Brad Girtman and Marque Fountain had flashes of solid defensive play. The secondary didn't get tested much through the air. There were only a couple of passes, but D'Juan Woods made another circus catch down the sideline, a grab that reminds you of his older brother Rashaun. It was one of two really spectacular receptions Woods has made so far in practice.

The lack of passing was disappointing to the secondary, especially cornerback Darrent Williams.

"I haven't had a chance at one," said Williams when asked if he'd kept his streak alive of one interception in practice each day this week. "They haven't thrown much, just really running the ball all the time. I almost got one, but Donovan threw it into the ground. He made a smart play."

I watched part of practice upstairs in the club and suite levels, as I was invited to take a tour of the stadium. I'll post more on that later, but WOW!

I asked our tour guide, John Henry of Flintco Construction, if he was worried about making the deadline of the Tulsa game Sept. 11?

"No, I'm not worried at all," said Henry. "I'm going to be tired, but it will be ready, I have no doubt about it."

If you have the cash, it is a good seat.

One last item from practice, the coaching staff also flip flopped kickers as freshman Jason Ricks moved to the afternoon and he was solid kicking extra points and field goals.

"We have two guys that both can kick it a distance and put it through the uprights," said Miles of the kicking situation. "We just need to work on it and become more consistent. I think we will be all right with one of those two guys (Ricks and redshirt freshman Luke Roberts)."

Cole Farden will handle punts and kickoffs and it appears that senior wide receiver John Wohglemuth will be the holder.

The entire squad will work out in pads tomorrow at 3:30 p.m. with meetings and lefting in the morning. All practices are closed to the public.

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