Spring Football Practice: March 24

The Cowboys held a two hour and 40 minute practice Thursday afternoon inside Boone Pickens Stadium and it was obvious that they had been through a 55-play scrimmage the day before. The pace was still quick with the workout conducted in helmets, shoulder pads and shorts but it was obvious that there were some sore bodies out on the field.

The practice was primarily stressing corrections from the scrimmage the day before and polishing execution on the offensive side of the ball. The defense was working on mistakes from the scrimmage and also starting to install some three-man front schemes to add to the base defense and nickel package that have already gone in during the first five workouts. The defense had a good scrimmage, according to new defensive coordinator Vance Bedford. But there is still plenty of room for improvement before spring practice concludes with a final scrimmage on April 9.

"Good effort, I really liked the effort out there, but we had a lot of mistakes," said Bedford after reviewing the scrimmage video and going over it with his staff and with the players. "There were some big hits and I believe this defense is going to be very physical. I want that, but we have to be sound in all areas. I didn't like the yardage allowed rushing, but I can see where we will improve. This was the first time our defense saw our offense operate at full speed. That will be good for us, going against that offense, especially for our conditioning."

One of the major positives on defense was that on many plays there were a lot of defenders around the ball and a lot of gang tackling. The defense allowed 215 yards on the ground on 33 attempts, but 77 of those yards came on reverses, something the defense will be more prepared for in the future.

Some of the players who had good scrimmages included defensive tackle Ryan McBean, defensive tackle Walter Thomas, defensive end Victor DeGrate, linebacker Pagitte McGee, linebacker Lawrence Pinson, linebacker Jamar Ransom, cornerback Vernon Grant, safety Jeremy Nethon, safety Thomas Wright, and cornerback Martel Van Zant. The secondary got burned on three deep balls, but the defense also registered seven sacks on the quarterbacks.

The offense worked Thursday on a variety of situations including coming off the goal line, base running game, short passing game, and goal line situations. Bobby Reid was part of two really good plays in the team period as he connected with veteran receiver Luke Frazier for a 17-yard strike over the middle. The other play showed that junior college transfer wide receiver Tevin Williams had not cooled off from his four-reception, 168-yard day in Wednesday's scrimmage. Williams caught a short inside screen from Reid and turned it up field for a 60-yard touchdown.

Offensive coordinator Larry Fedora said there were plenty of mistakes to correct from the Wednesday scrimmage, but the ability of a lot of different players to make plays in the offense was a huge positive.

"There were some really good things," explained Fedora. "The best thing about the whole practice was that we didn't turn the ball over. In your first scrimmage, your first day in pads, in a brand new offense I was really pleased that we didn't turn the ball over. The effort was awesome, probably the best I've ever been around in a first scrimmage. They are still thinking right now when that happens guys tend to go slow reacting, but the guys went hard and they looked like they had some fun and we made a few plays. We made some mistakes but that's to be expected."

The Cowboys will look to improve some more with the 80-play scrimmage planned for Saturday.

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