Spring Practice Report: March 9

STILLWATER – Shoulder pads were added to the mix on Wednesday as Oklahoma State went through its third spring football workout. The two and a half hour practice included the first substantial contact of the spring including a lengthy team period with 27 plays from scrimmage that really showed off the running attack in the new no huddle, spread offense.

Following stretching and some special teams work on extra points and field goals and punt block and punt coverage the team had more than an hour of individual and group drills with many of the drills serving as lead ins to the team period toward the end of practice. There was plenty of rotation at the skill positions and every healthy body seemed to get some reps during the practice.

"Both sides of the ball get better each day," said head coach Mike Gundy following the workout. "The offense goes through a time where they are confused because of the new system, but we had great effort. Players are moving around and we have a good attitude."

Offensive coordinator Larry Fedora said that his side of the ball now has 55 percent of the offense installed, but admitted the running game got the emphasis Wednesday.

"We did okay, maybe we'll never throw it," joked Fedora, who has said the offense is designed to pass to set up the run.

The first unit offensive line consisting of left tackle Charlie Johnson, left guard David Koenig, center David Washington, right guard Kellen Davis and right tackle Corey Hilliard did a pretty good job. Tight ends Brandon Pettigrew, Paschal Smith and Justin Waller were also involved in blocking as were fullbacks Shawn Willis and John Johnson.

In fact, running backs coach Curtis Luper, a former OSU tailback himself, deflected a lot of the credit for the runners' success on Wednesday to the blocking.

"There must have been some good blocking going on out there," said Luper. "That sounded like a former running back talking now, didn't it?"

The team period started off with redshirt freshman running back Mike Hamilton taking a pitch sweep left for eight yards. Defenders were not allowed to take backs to the ground, but it was pretty easy to tell when the defense had a runner or receiver corralled.

Hamilton was the leading rusher for the offense carrying six times for 60 yards including runs of 11, 14 and 14 yards. There is no doubt that while Seymore Shaw has been out rehabbing from minor knee surgery that Hamilton is one of the four backs who has made a strong impression with Luper and the offensive staff.

"He's got some juice, he's got something to him," said Luper of the 5-11, 230-pound speedster out of Florida. "He's learning the offense. He missed a couple of meetings so he is catching up. He'll compete."

Junior running back Greg Gold has been getting lots of reps. In fact, he usually is the first back out with the first team offense. The 5-9, 200-pounder from Irving, Texas, has really been in the background since he came to Stillwater but the fresh start with the new coaching staff is something he has really taken advantage of. In the team period Gold's first carry was on an inside zone read and he took the ball up the middle for 13 yards in traffic. He finished with four carries for 26 yards with his most impressive being just a two-yard gain. Gold took the pitch going right but the blocking collapsed. After making three big time moves to avoid defenders, he cut all the way back across the field and picked up two yards before being slung way out of bounds by linebacker Jamar Ransom and safety Stephen James. The late tackle caught the attention of offensive tackle Charlie Johnson, who came over and gave the two defenders his opinion of the move and warned them about it. Gold is definitely in the mix at running back.

"He has a clean slate with me literally," said Luper of Gold. "I didn't watch any tape. Obviously, coach Gundy gave me an evaluation of him, but I didn't watch anything on tape. He works hard, knows what he is doing, and he is competitive."

"I think so, Greg is doing a good job for us," said Gundy. "He is taking advantage of the opportunity to impress his position coach and the offensive coordinator and get a chance to get in the lineup next season. Greg Gold seems to rise to the top right now and he does have some game experience."

Calvin Roberts had a couple of carries for 20 yards, including a sweep pitch to the right went for 14 yards.

"He's having a hard time grasping the offense," said Luper of Roberts. "It is dynamic and we learn things on the move, but he is talented. I expect him to be right up at the front competing with those guys."

Converted fullback Julius Crosslin was caught behind the line of scrimmage by defensive end Maurice Cummings on the first of his two carries, but came back on the next play and busted a carry inside for 12 yards. He is also in the mix at the running back position.

"He does have tools," said Luper of his jumbo back. "He has quick feet and he is 248 pounds. He's competitive and he too is having a tough time with the offense. We'll get that corrected."

There were mistakes with a couple of bad pitches that cost the offense yards. The passing game, which was limited to just eight called passes in the team period, had mixed results as swift wide receiver Tommy Devereaux caught passes from Donovan Woods (down the right sideline) and Al Pena (over the middle) for a total of 28 yards. The only other completion was a swing pass from Woods to redshirt freshman fullback John Johnson for five yards. Pena had a tipped pass picked off by redshirt freshman safety Chase Pulliam and then late in the team work Bobby Reid made a bad decision and was picked by linebacker Jamar Ransom.

The defensive line showed signs of producing more in the new 4-3-4 scheme as Cummings sacked Donovan Woods, while junior college transfer defensive tackle Ryan McBean, who has showed loads of potential, got loose on Reid in the backfield.

It was a good start, the first three days of spring drills, but there is a long way to go and the coaching staff made sure the players knew that plenty of work awaits them when they get back from spring break. The Cowboys' next practice will be a non-contact shorts and helmet practice on Monday, March 21, the first day back in class after spring break.

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