Practice Report 7: Ricky Price Shines

Head coach Mike Gundy didn't enjoy Tuesday morning's practice, so instead of helmets, shoulder pads and shorts for the afternoon workout of the day the Cowboys were back in full pads on the first day of two-a-days and the results were much better.

"I thought we had a much better practice this afternoon than this morning," said Gundy. "We had some heat that was good for us and then it cooled off and we tried to move them in the shade as practice moved on. I stay in touch with coach (Rob) Glass on the conditioning and he thinks we are doing fine.

"Ricky Price made some nice plays for us offensively for a true freshman. Ryan McBean made a few plays. Calvin Roberts is acting like he wants to become what Pat Jones used to say is a real football player. Some of these guys are making some strides and we really have a good attitude among our team. That's what is important right now – that these players are willing to come out here and pay the price and have good body language and pay attention to our coaches. I'm really enjoying walking around and watching them."

The freshman did show up. In a practice that had an emphasis on the running game, Price made two plays that got everybody's attention. The first came on a crossing route over the middle – a place where receivers reveal just how much nerve and toughness they possess. Quarterback Bobby Reid delivered the ball a little high and Price went up to flag it down with a defender on both side and as he came down he was belted by both, but popped right up off the ground holding the ball up.

The second play came late in the extended team period at the end of practice as Price got behind the first team secondary on a deep post route and Reid delivered the ball right on the money for an easy score that covered at least 50 yards. Free safety Stephen James made no excuses and said he just got beat by the freshman. This is the second time in a practice that the Cypress Falls High School product has dazzled teammates, coaches, media, and fans with his pass catching prowess. It would certainly appear if he keeps it up he will have a chance to play a good amount this upcoming season.

As for the entire practice, the emphasis was on the running game with lots of team work on middle to off-tackle runs and short yardage situations. Quarterbacks Donovan Woods and Bobby Reid spent more time working with the backs and the offensive line than they did with the receivers as the top two quarterbacks participated in offensive run drills and then an extended full contact team run period with every play a third-and-two situation.

On the first play of the team run linebacker Lawrence Pinson nearly took off Calvin Roberts head in stopping the 5-11, 225-pounder for a 1-yard gain. Roberts, who was praised by Gundy after the practice, came back with a seven-yard gain off left tackle. The offense probably came out of the drill with a slight lead, but both sides had their highlights.

Julius Crosslin had a six-yard carry in which he dragged a couple of defenders, wide receiver D'Juan Woods took a reverse the distance outrunning the secondary, and quarterback Donovan Woods fought hard for a two-yard keeper over the guard that moved the chains. Defensive end Victor DeGrate had a big hit on Roberts in stopping him at the line of scrimmage and Jeray Chatham corralled Mike Hamilton short of a first down.

The quarterback race – which favored Reid in practice Monday – turned a little toward Woods today but both players had team blitz drills. Woods opened up with two solid gains on intermediate tosses to his brother D'Juan Woods. Reid broke open on a quarterback keeper that would have gone all the way, He really flashed his speed in the open field on that play. However, a few plays later he made a mistake throw down the middle of the field that was short and he was picked off by cornerback Sonji Ketiku.

"I feel like we are a much better coverage team in the secondary," said Gundy after practice. "I also feel our offensive line is much better at protection. Now we weren't as good on third-and-two over in that drill, we have to get better at that. We're a beter team in protection and our defense does a better job of covering in space. We're doing things that are important for us in the first game."

During the final team period, the emphasis was still on the running game with Mike Hamilton, Julius Crosslin and Calvin Roberts all being featured. Woods hit most of his short passes, including a slant to Tevin Williams and a wheel route to Seth Newton. Reid had his two dramatic pass completions to Price, but was sacked by defensive tackle Ryan McBean on the last play of the practice.

The first day of two-a-days is in the books and there will be plenty of video to go over in meetings Wednesday, and recovery time for the legs as there is just one practice in the afternoon at 4:45 p.m. It is open to the public with the viewing area on the west end and the entrance in the middle of the west end.

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