Spring Football Practice: March 28

STILLWATER – The Cowboys were a little flat when they returned to the practice field Monday following the 115-play scrimmage on Saturday. The first hour and a half of the practice really focused on more position specific drills as the coaching staff attempted to work on and correct mistakes that were noticed on tape from the scrimmage and, overall, sharpen the performance of the entire squad.

It was easy to tell that players were still sore and had to work into the practice, but by the time team drills started the pace had picked up and the players' intensity was back to a suitable level.

True to his word on Saturday, head coach Mike Gundy saw the quarterbacks reps stagger from the four plays and switch with the top three Donovan Woods, Bobby Reid and Al Pena. Woods started getting more reps Monday as he is running with the first team and clearly leads the quarterback race for now. Woods had several impressive scrambles and quarterback keepers for significant yardage and he completed the top pass of the day when he hit tight end Justin Waller over the middle for a 32-yard completion. He later connected with his older brother, wide receiver D'Juan Woods for a 17-yard completion.

It was obvious that second team quarterback Bobby Reid has hit a slight wall. Reid seemed unhappy over the change in reps. Reid's performance didn't suffer as he was 3-for-3 in his passing during team-run and team-pass periods. However, Reid is behind Woods in the competition for the starting quarterback job and he knows it.

Gundy explained that Reid is lacking experience after the injury kept him out last season and when he did return he barely received any reps in practice.

"This is the first football he's played in a long time," said Gundy. "He's going to be fine and he will fight through this. He has to underastand that it will take time as he learns this offense and gets himself a little more experience. He is a great quarterback and he will only get better after he fights through this."

A good example of what kind of the day Reid probably thought it was came during the final team period as he turned to look at the coaches on the sideline for a signal and the center snapped the ball as he was looking the other way. Reid still picked up the snap and got the pass off. The former Galena Park North Shore state champion quarterback hit Tommy Devereaux for a 15-yard completion for his best throw of the day. It was a bullet.

The defense did a solid job all day as returning starting safety Jamie Thompson was back out in the middle of the defense. Some of the best plays by defenders included sacks by Xavier Lawson-Kennedy, linebacker Grant Jones and linebacker Lawrence Pinson. The biggest hit of the day came when linebacker Pagitte McGee was right there when running back Greg Gold caught a short pass from Woods. McGee, right in front of him, gave him a pretty good hit. Gold sat out the rest of the practice complaining of pain in his groin area.

The best move of the day came during the final team period and it was a doozy as wide receiver Jeromie Tucker came in and took a reverse pitch only to see defensive end Maurice Cummings in the backfield waiting on him. Tucker cut the reverse up early, up the middle of the field for a six-yard gain and earned plenty of compliments from the offensive coaches.

All in all, it was a solid practice according to the head coach.

"Practice went very well today," said Gundy. "There were some guys that were slower than I would have liked, but once you get to this point in spring practice guys are a little sore and beat up, and we have to learn to fight through things and become a tougher football team. We have a lot of young players out there that are contributing with the first two units. So we're asking those guys to pick up the pace as we progress through spring and fight through all the bumps and bruises, continue to give great effort and continue to learn the new systems."

That's exactly what purpose this practice served. It was a toughness practice. Just two days after the first major scrimmage players would have surely preferred a day off, but that's not the way it works.

The day off Tuesday should help and the players will be back in full pads for practice Wednesday at 4:10 p.m. The Cowboys will then practice on Thursday and another major scrimmage is scheduled for Saturday at 11:45 a.m.

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