Practice Report 1: Gundy Is Definitely in Command

Anybody wondering how Mike Gundy would settle in as a head coach should know that the former OSU quarterback and assistant coach learned his lessons well. His former head coach Pat Jones would have been proud of his protégé for setting the tone at the first practice of the preseason.

Early in Thursday's first practice the offense was running wide receiver screens against air when first one ball was dropped and then another, and Gundy detected a lack of focus and effort. The first-year head coach shouted at the most recent receiver to drop the ball, Chijuan Mack. Then he yelled at the team.

"It's not hot enough. It's too nice a day for you guys?" Gundy yelled.

Then Gundy ordered the entire offense into up-downs, the drill players dislike that has them running in place and then on command diving on the ground and then scrambling back up as quick as possible back into running in place. After 13 up-downs, the offense understood it was time to work.

"It started lackadaisical," Gundy said of his brief opening tirade. "D'Juan Woods, who is a good player, drops a pass then another player that drops one and doesn't hustle and run through the end zone, and then another that should have already been lined up in the formation. What happens is they are not out here ready to go. That is one thing that we won't stand for here. We had them do a few up-downs and maybe we need to start practice with up-downs."

The first pass of the practice was completed as Donovan Woods started the drill with a sharp screen to Tommy Devereaux, who sprinted into the end zone. Bobby Reid completed his first pass to Seth Newton for a score before the receivers got the case of the drops.

One of the biggest questions for the offense going into the first practice was retention and it appeared to be good across the board on offense. Offensive coordinator Larry Fedora rushed off after practice presumably to check out practice video, but Gundy and the players seemed to think the retention from the spring was good.

"It was real good," said running back Mike Hamilton. "Everybody was going hard and getting it done."

The running game looked pretty sharp for the first day and as good an example as any of how the summer conditioning workouts made this team trimmer and more athletic is Hamilton. Hamilton looked to have lost weight and you could tell that he had a quicker take off and explosion on running plays.

"He worked really hard," said strength and conditioning coordinator Rob Glass of Hamilton. "He's more explosive and he is one of the guys that really improved himself this summer."

"I lost about five pounds, got in great condition and got a little quicker," said Hamilton. "Coach Glass's workouts, they get you where you need to be."

With the news that Seymore Shaw is going to transfer to the University of Central Oklahoma it is now known for sure that the running game will be in the hands of Hamilton and Julius Crosslin at tailback. Both players look ready, and Greg Gold and Calvin Roberts also had a good first day. Gold, as advertised, caught several passes out of the backfield and moving out on the slot. That will be a specialty of his this season according to the coaching staff.

There was a change in the offensive line as Corey Hilliard is back at tackle, not the left side where Charlie Johnson took up residence in the spring. Hilliard has been moved from right guard to right tackle.

"It was a little bit of a surprise. I thought I was going to be at guard for sure," said Hilliard. "I take a challenge whenever it comes, and we have a lot of guys that can play a lot of positions, so it was a little bit of a surprise but not really."

That leaves Johnson at left tackle, David Koenig at left guard, David Washington at center, and Corey Curtis at guard teaming with Hilliard on the right side. The second offensive line had Adam Gourley at left tackle, true freshman Noah Franklin at left guard, new junior college transfer Steven Denning at center, Caleb Noble at right guard, and Kellen Davis at right tackle. The linemen looked like they were in pretty good step in retaining the offense and the fact that it is primarily a veteran group really helps.

"Everybody knows what it takes to get things done," said Hilliard. "We have great leadership in Charlie Johnson and Corey Curtis and Kellen Davis. Whenever anybody slacks off one of those guys says something and we get it going again."

In the passing work there may be some real reasons to get excited about freshman wide receiver Jeremy Broadway. However, when they started 7-on-7 work it was mainly veterans showing up. Donovan Woods started off crisp by hitting three of his first four passes -- two of which were of the short variety to the outside to his brother D'Juan Woods. Those were passes that Donovan Woods sometimes struggled with last season, but he was sharp on most of them today.

Reid's first pass was over the middle on a crossing route to Tevin Williams and it looked really good. But on his second play Reid was picked off by freshman linebacker Alex Odiari. The former undersized nose guard in high school is working on becoming a linebacker, and the interception had to give him some confidence. He was strutting a little on the return and had a big grin on his face.

"It's a lot of fun to watch those guys," said Gundy of the freshmen. "In some of those positions we are going to have those guys play. We rely on them to learn, gather information, and come out here and fight through being a college football player and be ready to play in the first game for us. It takes a lot and we talk about that a lot as a team and see who can handle everything about being a college football player."

"They come in and get a pick and I told him earlier today to go out there and do his thing," said senior defensive back Jamie Thompson. "He got out there quick and got a feel for it."

Reid came back to hit a number of passes in the drill, but the longest completion of the day came on a streak route bomb from third-team quarterback Al Pena to Errick McCown down the left sideline.

Gundy cautioned not to read too much into the quarterbacks early.

"We'll start evaluating them sometime after the 15th of August," said Gundy. "You hit it right on the head ... one pass doesn't mean anything and one good option play doesn't mean anything. These coaches have to evaluate all the film."

The defensive drills are hard to see on the other end of the field, but in the 7-on-7 drills two plays really stood out. The first, the interception by Odiari and the second, a pass broken up by linebacker Paul Duren, who made a nice play to stop a well thrown ball by Woods from being caught by Devereaux. It was also noticeable that senior Jamie Thompson was playing at a number of spots in the secondary, including cornerback.

"I'll play anywhere, that's what I've told coach (Vance) Bedford," said Thompson. "I'll play corner or even linebacker. It's like my old friend Vernon Grant, I don't care about size, I'll play anywhere this team needs me and I'll make plays."

The two hour, 45 minute practice concluded at 7:30. Some of the defensive linemen, including tackles Xavier Lawson-Kennedy and Walter Thomas, had extra conditioning to do after the practice. Thompson, who has really become the leader on the defense, stayed out and watched and supported the big guys.

The Cowboys will practice again on Friday at 4:45 p.m. with the practice being open to the public. On Saturday they will have pictures and media day in the morning, Fan Appreciation Day in the afternoon, and shoulder pads are added for the 4:45 p.m. practice on Saturday. For more information on Fan Appreciation Day, go to the official OSU website at www.okstate.com.

GoPokes Top Stories