Practice Report 10: Gundy Starts Tapering Back

Head coach Mike Gundy continues to show he has a plan and Thursday night's called for a slightly early end to the practice. So after Donovan Woods led the offense on a two-minute drive to a game-winning field goal of 42yards by walk-on kicker Bruce Redden, the whistle blew and the Cowboys went to dinner about 20 minutes early.

"I thought the defense played well and the offense was good in the running game," said Gundy. "We still had too many drops in the passing game, and we had a lot of freshmen getting reps with the first and second units on both sides of the ball. That's okay because a lot of those guys are going to have to play for us. We're banged up and nicked up a little and really need to get more in sync. We'll plan for the scrimmage. On defense we're showing more stunts and man coverage, so the offense is getting some different looks."

Both the offense and the defense had their moments in the afternoon practice in helmets, shoulder pads and shorts. At the start of team blitz senior linebacker Lawrence Pinson was dominating. On the first play he and fellow backer Paul Duren stopped Mike Hamilton in his tracks on a sweep to the left side. On the next two plays Pinson sacked quarterback Donovan Woods. Passing in the drill was inconsistent as Maurice Cummings batted a Bobby Reid pass at the line of scrimmage. Freshman Calvin Mickens had a nice break up of an attempted fade, Woods overthrew his open brother D'Juan Woods on a deep route, and defensive end Victor DeGrate sacked Reid to end the blitz drill.

The only completions were a Reid-to-Ricky Price slant and a Woods dart to Kenny Williams in the seam. Gundy said it wasn't a bad practice for the quarterbacks, but they both need to improve.

"They both need to play better," said Gundy. "Donovan needs to be more effective. His threat of running the ball is an advantage, and now he needs to be more effective at using that and hitting open receivers downfield. Bobby (Reid) was okay, but he missed a few things."

One guys that didn't miss anything all day was sophomore wide receiver Tommy Devereaux. The Duncanville, Texas, product is one of those players the coaches have been urging to improve. Thursday he looked more like the receiver that stood out in the final spring scrimmage.

"I needed to make some plays," said Devereaux after practice heading to the locker room. "Coach Gundy was going to jump all over me if I missed any more balls. I know I need to do this day after day."

He did Thursday. In the morning practice Devereaux caught two passes from Reid in a session-ending two-minute drill. This afternoon he caught no less than six passes in the team periods (offense vs. defense full speed). One completion from third team quarterback Al Pena came on a post and Devereaux exploded away from the coverage for a touchdown in the 7-on-7 drill. Then he came back and caught two passes, a wide receiver screen and a big gain down the sideline, to help set up a 42-yard game-winning field goal at the end of the practice.

"Tommy is one of those players that really needs to make plays for us," said Gundy. "He needs to be more mature because he's in his third year, and he needs to make plays."

Also in 7-on-7, Donovan Woods hit freshman Jeremy Broadway on an out route that he turned into a touchdown, while Reid connected on a beautiful deep pass to D'Juan Woods who beat starting corner Daniel McLemore on the play.

The defense knows the offense's signals and language, which is making it harder on the offense – but Gundy said that's okay. It should make the offense more assignment perfect to get the job done. The final team period featured a coming out drill from just inside the 10-yard line and then the two-minute drill. Calvin Roberts played some with the first unit and had some success.

"Calvin has had a big summer and he has really come on to be in the mix," said running backs coach Curtis Luper. "It's better to have three fighting at the top than two."

Mike Hamilton and Julius Crosslin are also battling for the top running back spot.

It's worth noting that defensive ends Chris Flowers and Darnell Smith each sacked Reid in the last team period, and that Woods was nearly picked off by linebacker Jamar Ransom on the final play before the practice and drive ending field goal.

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