Poke Practice Notes

OSU officials, including head coach Mike Gundy, understand the excitement over the upcoming scrimmage on Saturday and that it will be a popular event with it being the only open scrimmage of the preseason.

There is concern with the limited area for fans to stand within the confines of the practice field. The plan they have come up with is to allow as many fans as can comfortably occupy the viewing area inside the fence. They will remove the tarp on the north end of the practice field and then erect temporary bleachers in the parking lot of the Wrestling Hall of Fame. That is the plan right now, but they are considering any reasonable options before finalizing the viewing accommodations for Saturday. The scrimmage will begin at 11 a.m.

With Monday's announcement that starting free safety Thomas Wright had been dismissed from the squad for violation of team policy, Stephen James stepped into the starting lineup Tuesday and felt the extra eyes on him.

"Yes, I definitely did," said James of knowing he was under the microscope. "I have to come out here every day and perform with the loss of Thomas. They are looking for somebody to step up. So I am making sure I learn the defense, step up and making tackles out there."

Fresh from a little extra running at the end of practice, James said he fully realizes the opportunity he has now and how important it is that he steps in and does the job.

"I'm pretty comfortable with the scheme, and I really feel like I'm finding my fit."

He is also more than willing to look for help and like all of the young players in the secondary the sophomore from Galena Park North Shore is looking at the mother hen of the defensive backs, strong safety Jamie Thompson for help and guidance.

"Me and Jamie are back there communicating like we would in a game. When we're in the film room he tells me what I do wrong and I give him a little feedback. It's all about making each other better."

James had half of his finger nail on his left pinky finger ripped off Monday, but he also got the chance of a lifetime to start at free safety. So today he ripped the other half of the nail off and went to work.

"First day with the ones I didn't want a little finger holding me back so I told them to do what they had to do, tape it up and let me go," said James.

Remember Caleb Noble? He came in as a celebrated walk-on freshman from Fairview High School who was super strong and quickly earned his way into a jumbo backfield on goal line situations and eventually into regular playing time at offensive guard as a back up. After a disagreement over being awarded a scholarship with then head coach Les Miles, Noble left and tried the Ivy League, transferring to Dartmouth. It didn't work out and Noble is back, and Tuesday moved into the starting line up at right guard.

"You know I think wherever you find yourself you have to work hard," said Noble. "There have been some situations in the past that are in the past and it's time to move on and do what you can do here. The time is now, so I just have to give everything I've got."

Expect Noble to play a bunch said offensive line coach Joe Wickline. The 6-1, 305-pounder isn't the prototypical offensive lineman the Cowboys are looking for, but he is a tough guy that Wickline has taken a liking to.

"To use an old term, he's a blue-collar guy," said Wickline. "He's a tough guy. He's not going to impress you that he's 6-8. He's tough, he's strong, and he has a great center of gravity. When you are inside you like a shorter guy with girth and he has that and he understands leverage. He understands speed and he understands the game and I think he's going to help us."

Noble said, "One thing I've learned over the years is that you can't doubt yourself and you just have to have faith."

Like an old boot, you can't get rid of Caleb Noble. Expect the junior to stick around to the finish this time around.

For those curious, we've addressed most of the offensive depth, but here is a look at the way the defensive two deep has looked in practice the last couple of days.

LE: Jerry Don Bray, Darnell Smith
DT: Xavier Lawson-Kennedy, Walter Thomas
DT: Ryan McBean, Jeray Chatham
RE: Victor DeGrate, Maurice Cummings
FLB: Pagitte McGee, Jamar Ransom
MLB: Lawrence Pinson, Alex Odiari
BLB: Paul Duren, Roderick Johnson
LCB: Martel Van Zant, Cortney Billingsley
FS: Stephen James, Chase Holland
SS: Jamie Thompson, Chase Holland
RCB: Daniel McLemore, Grant Jones

It turns out that defensive end Nathan Peterson has a tweaked hamstring and he remained in the rehab area running with fellow defensive end Marque Fountain (turf toe). Kicker Jason Ricks is still rehabbing a tweaked quad muscle. Joining that trio Tuesday were starting offensive guard Corey Curtis, who twisted a knee in the morning practice; Jeremy Nethon, with an unknown injury; and Blake Botek, who is having some soreness in his surgically repaired knee.

Defensive back Lamar Pinson, the younger brother of linebacker Lawrence Pinson, reported for practice Tuesday. Pinson will have to work out in shorts for the next three days before being able to go in full pads, as per NCAA acclimatization rules.

There was heavy work again in the afternoon on the punt game and walk-on freshman Cole Reynolds nailed the longest punt in team work so far with a 53-yard boot. Reynolds had good punts and turned the ball over on four of his six punts, while fellow freshman Matt Fodge also had several strong efforts. Both kickers also had a couple of below average kicks. Senior Brian Jeffries snapped to Fodge and freshman Zach Allen snapped to Reynolds.

In the afternoon extra point and field goal kicking period, Bruce Redden took all the kicks with Luke Roberts holding, and Jeffries and Allen snapping. Redden connected on 6-of-8 tries with makes from 27, 27, 37, 37, 42, and on the final kick a strong 57-yarder. The miss came from 27 and the right side protection collapsed and an attempt from 42 yards was blocked. Associate head coach and special teams coordinator Joe DeForest was quick to address the problem right after the blocked kick. It was the most impressive kicking exhibition so far in preseason camp.

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