Spring Football Practice: March 21

STILLWATER – Following an 11-day layoff for spring break the Oklahoma State Cowboys were back on the field at Boone Pickens Stadium to resume spring football practice. In the first three practices new offensive coordinator Larry Fedora and the rest of the offensive staff had installed 55 percent of the offense.

Monday in meetings before practice they installed some more and then during practice used some of the new stuff and mixed in some of the plays that had been learned prior to the break. The challenge for the entire offense, and especially the quarterbacks, was to show they could handle it.

"I really felt like they were tuned in pretty good today," said head coach Mike Gundy of the entire squad and how they came back from the break. "They had some recall. We had more installation today and these guys are thinking until the ball is snapped instead of just reacting. If they continue to work hard and study on their own then they'll pick up the system. They'll be able to react quicker when the ball is snapped and not do as much thinking."

It did look pretty good, not much different than it did in the final practice before the break on March 9. The practice - in helmets, shoulder pads and shorts - was not full contact but did allow for a trio of team periods. The results were mixed with plays made on both sides of the ball.

Bobby Reid hit running back Mike Hamilton on a screen that went for 14 yards as the offense was working third-down and 10-yard situations. Reid also connected with wide receiver Tommy Devereaux over the middle for a 24-yard gain. Al Pena broke off a pass play and scrambled for 12 yards. Quarterback Donovan Woods was sacked twice, once by blitzing linebacker Lawrence Pinson and safety Jamie Thompson got the other sack in a nickel blitz. Reid threw an interception picked off by safety Chase Holland and returned for a touchdown with the defense doing plenty of crowing during and after the play.

The defense didn't have as much recall. They installed their nickel package Monday and defensive coordinator Vance Bedford said they will put in a three-man line later this week.

"As long as they remembered how to run to the football then I'm fine," said Bedford. "If they will run to the football and make plays then I can worry later about putting more schemes in."

The next situation for the offense was second down and four yards to go. Offensive highlights included a seven-yard run on the first play by Greg Gold. Later Julius Crosslin broke off a 14-yard run down the right sideline. The defense had plenty of success including defensive end Jerry Don Bray's sack of Bobby Reid. The next situation they worked on was first-and-10, and Donovan Woods connected with older brother D'Juan Woods for a 31-yard gain on a route to the right side of the field. Calvin Roberts had an eight-yard run up the middle and Bobby Reid an eight-yard scramble when he couldn't find an open receiver.

"Probably the toughest thing for them was going back through all the signals," said offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Larry Fedora. "I thought they were good on a lot of things, but the signals gave them some problems. I think Wednesday will be better because they will be back off spring break mentally. If your not actually out there doing it it's tough on you."

The last situation worked on in the final team period was second and seven yards to go. Again, Greg Gold started it off well as the junior running back out of Irving, Texas, went 13 yards up the middle and cutting to the right. Donovan Woods found freshman wide receiver Seth Newton for a 24-yard gain over the middle. Gold came back with another 13-yard run, this time to the left side of the defense. Freshman running back Mike Hamilton had an eight-yard gain off left tackle. On the second to last play of the team work, quarterback Al Pena hit Newton with a quick pass and thanks to a great block by D'Juan Woods, Newton went 16 yards on the play. The defense got the last word as defensive end Victor DeGrate chased Pena out of bounds for a two-yard loss on the next and final play.

It is still way too early to start getting a read on the quarterback race between returning starter Donovan Woods, ultra-talented Bobby Reid and heady Al Pena, Fedora said.

"No," Fedora said when asked the question. "By the end of this week I'll have a better idea because we'll have two scrimmages under our belt."

"It was good to get back out here today and practice in a little bit of wet weather," said Gundy of the practice. "In our style of offense we need to work and be able to execute in all kinds of conditions, so it was good for us today. We had good effort, I really enjoyed the defense's enthusiasm and the offense has a ways to go in learning a no-huddle system and knowing what to do on every play."

It's a busy week for the Cowboys as they will practice again on Wednesday and Thursday afternoons with a scrimmage on Saturday around noon. All practices are open to the public, but could change because of weather conditions.

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