Spring Football: Gundy Praises Defense

STILLWATER – Oklahoma State has just one practice left in spring football. Wednesday was just the 11th workout of the spring, but that first sentence is correct. The Cowboys will stage what is called a 50/50, a half practice and half scrimmage, on Friday. They will do the same next Wednesday and on Saturday, April 22, head coach Mike Gundy announced the Cowboys will have a spring game - a real game (read the details in Pokes Spring Practice Notes). The lone practice date left is next Monday.

Wednesday's practice got lively as the team went through two lengthy team periods (11 vs. 11) with some crisp action. Quarterbacks Bobby Reid and Zac Robinson took virtually all the snaps in the team periods, which worked various situations ranging from first-and-10, second-and-long, third-and-long, third-and-short, and culminated with goal-line work.

"Defense really played better today," Gundy said after the practice concluded. "They did a good job of pass rush. Our offense didn't do a good job of holding them out. Bobby made a few plays and made some mistakes. Zac made a few runs, Michael (Hamilton) made a few runs."

The defense seemed to dominate in the first team period during the middle of the practice session on the grass practice fields. Both Reid and Robinson had some decent runs during the period, but the defensive line had five sacks - two by defensive end Victor DeGrate, and one each by defensive tackle Ryan McBean, defensive tackle Larry Brown and defensive end Nathan Peterson. Peterson added a sack later in the final team period and was joined by fellow defensive ends Marque Fountain and Darnell Smith along with defensive tackle Maurice Cummings.

"They did a good job," said defensive coordinator Vance Bedford. "I took a few chances and sent the dogs. It's spring and those guys want to be aggressive."

The longest runs by the quarterbacks came from Robinson on a zone read keeper that went the distance for a 60-yard score, and Reid had a 17-yard gain on a naked bootleg. The tight ends and backs were the primary receivers in the team work as tight ends Brandon Pettigrew and Justin Waller had some double digit receptions. Running back Mike Hamilton caught a pass from Reid that went for 15 yards.

The most spectacular play of the day came on a 35-yard pass attempt from Reid to D'Juan Woods. Woods reached out on the run heading toward the sideline on the streak and made the catch, but as he was going out of bounds the ball was taken away by cornerback Jacob Lacy for a possible interception. This was one play that in a game would surely have been reviewed on instant replay from the booth.

"Woods has done a good job of making plays and (Adarius) Bowman does, but Lacy is a guy that has really shown up the last two weeks at corner. He's really shown up," said Gundy. "He's been in the game and he understands and he is making plays. He's developed and is 12 pounds heavier than he was and that allows him to be a little more physical. (On defense) Chris Collins makes plays, Vic (DeGrate) makes plays, McBean and Larry Brown shows up more now. We still have a long way to go, but we are a more mature team. We're in better condition. It's 90 degrees and we've been out here over two and a half hours and we're still going strong and it's no cake walk out here."

The offense may have gotten even at the end of practice in the goal line work as running backs Hamilton, Calvin Roberts and DeAaron Martin took turns scoring from close range. The offensive coaches seemed to enjoy throwing their arms in the air to signal the touchdowns. Offensive tackle David Koenig, who is now playing on the left side on the first unit with Corey Hilliard at right tackle, said it was a pride thing for the offensive line, but he wished he could have seen a little more.

"You know what I never really saw whether the ball got in or not most of the time," said Koenig. "When you are down there fighting it's just you and the guy across from you one on one. Most of the time I don't know what the hell is going on down there - whether he (the back) gets in or not."

Koenig added that the offensive line is getting better with the young players and the work they are getting from a pretty solid and experienced defensive line is speeding up the learning curve as he and Hilliard and center David Washington help the young guards (Andrew Lawrence and Stephen Denning) come along.

The Cowboys will get physical again on Friday with a 50/50 practice and scrimmage. It is estimated they will scrimmage around 60 plays in Boone Pickens Stadium with the practice starting at 3 p.m.

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