Spring Football: Reid, Robinson Move Up

STILLWATER – On a day where the Cowboys' practice focused on fundamentals, position techniques and corrections from Friday's 113-play major scrimmage the scene was livened up some by the presence of a former standout college coach. Jackie Sherrill grew up in Duncan, Okla., and attended games in Stillwater as a youngster.

As a coach he visited Stillwater several times as an assistant, but twice as a head coach with less than memorable results. Sherrill's 1988 Texas A&M squad visited the Mike Gundy-quarterbacked Cowboys and were hammered 52-15. In 1998 he brought his Mississippi State team to Lewis Field and lost 42-23. No hard feelings though as Sherrill was eager to see the Cowboys on his Big 12 Spring Football Tour for his regionally syndicated Conference Call radio program.

"I think Mike is doing a great job," Sherrill said after watching the Cowboys' seventh practice of the spring. "This team looks good. I didn't recognize running back Mike Hamilton. He's really trimmed up and their linemen, (both) offense and defense, all look athletic. You can see they are strong, but they have lost weight."

Sherrill actually walked over to the far side of the practice field to visit with OSU strength and conditioning coach Rob Glass to find out what he did to achieve the noticeable results with the Cowboy players.

Sherrill was heartily welcomed by Gundy and his staff, and spent time talking with Gundy, offensive coordinator Larry Fedora, and an old friend in wide receivers coach Gunter Brewer.

"I really like the time they spend on special teams," said Sherrill, who now does some special teams clinics for other coaches and their staffs. "That time on special teams will pay off and they do some drills like the one with the gunners and destroyers on cover units that I don't see other schools do. I watched the offensive and defensive linemen and they spend a lot of time on technique and doing that will make the difference in games."

Sherrill even looked over the schedule for next season and tried to picture how the Cowboys' journey will develop.

"I see them winning six or seven games and they could win more because there are some games that really look like toss ups," proposed Sherrill, who took all four of his schools Washington State, Pittsburgh, Texas A&M, and Mississippi State to bowl games in his head coaching career.

"Mike is a tough guy. I can see the discipline paying off. He believes in his players doing things right, and on the field working hard. With all the facilities, and I didn't recognize that stadium, I can see why they are recruiting better athletes. Oklahoma State has a real good chance in the future of staying in the top six in the conference and that could be anywhere from one to six in any given season."

The longtime coach has now watched Texas A&M, Texas, Oklahoma State, and will check out Oklahoma, Baylor, the A&M spring game, and Texas Tech before heading back home, and then coming back out to visit the north schools, which are all about a week behind the south on spring practice.

The Cowboys spent a little over two and a half hours on the field and finished up a very technique and position-oriented practice with a red zone drill that saw the offense and defense each have their moments.

"I just told the team that it was the best Monday that we've had," said Gundy. "I like this spring format that we have, giving them two days off. I think it's good for the coaches and I think it's good for the players to be away from us. You always worry about giving them two days off and what they'll be like, but they worked hard today. A quote from (former Cowboy head coach) Pat Jones, ‘It's 65 degrees and partly cloudy, anybody can practice hard,' but they did move around and they did practice hard."

In the team period quarterbacks Bobby Reid and Zac Robinson got a greater share of the reps. As expected the coaching staff, in reviewing the Friday scrimmage, felt that Reid and Robinson earned more reps. Gundy explained that change after practice.

"(Bobby) was the best in the scrimmage and we're going to increase his reps because he's earned that at this time, but we'll increase Zac's reps because he played a little better," said the OSU head coach. "Alex (Cate), of course, was a little off. He makes some plays but there's times he makes some mistakes because he's 17 years old. And then Al (Pena) played OK but we felt those other two guys played a little better. We're still going to roll them, we're just not going to roll them as much."

Just as important, the review of the scrimmage and the elevated play of the two quarterbacks fits the timetable that Gundy and his staff had hoped would occur going into the spring as far as the quarterback position.

"We said before spring practice that halfway through we wanted to start trimming reps," continued Gundy. "You can't get four guys ready and we're able to do that now. Sometime around practice 11 I'd like to go to a two deep, and we may be able to do that. We feel comfortable about the way we're distributing reps the rest of the way because of what we saw in the first six practices."

The key for Reid and Robinson, now that they have gained an edge, is not to back up any. The player that takes his play up a notch is looking to be that guy on top of the two-deep as the team heads down the stretch in spring practice. Oklahoma State will come back with two more workouts this week. The Cowboys will practice on Wednesday at 3 p.m. and then scrimmage again on Friday at 3 p.m.

All practices are open to the public with the Wednesday workout scheduled on the grass practice fields and the Friday scrimmage expected to go in Boone Pickens Stadium.

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