Spring Football: New and Review In The Heat

STILLWATER - The Oklahoma State football squad had to be thinking about a big thank you to the coaching staff on Monday as on what felt like the warmest day of the spring so far the Cowboys practiced in helmets and shorts. The temperature was in the mid-90s as the Cowboys went through a two-hour, 20-minute practice. This was the third of the mandatory non-contact practices mandated by the NCAA in their spring practice formula for Division I teams.

Many schools will get all three of those non-padded practices out of the way early, but Mike Gundy and staff intionally kept one for this final week.

"We had a good day with the pads off," Gundy said after the practice concluded. "Today was a lot of learning and teaching, instead of reps. We wanted to correct the mistakes from the last scrimmage and put in the last few things before the final two scrimmages. We'll give them the day off tomorrow and then go hard on Wednesday with an hour and 20 minutes of practice and then an hour and 20 minutes of scrimmage. We'll go about 80 plays."

The temperature is supposed to be some 15 degrees cooler on Wednesday and stay that way through the weekend for Saturday's Orange-White scrimmage. The corrections from Friday's scrimmage, which totalled 78 plays, had to be lighter than any other. Both the offense and defense had success in a balanced scrimmage that saw a lot of players on both sides of the ball perform well.

"The last two scrimmages (April 14 and April 7), with all the plusses and minuses, have been the best scrimmages we've had since we've been here, spring or fall," said Gundy, referring to the time he has been head coach.

Much of the installation of new things Monday had to do with offense and special teams. The offense spent a lot of time working the goal-line passing offense, throwing in a few new wrinkles that seemed to work well when the offense and defense came together for a seven-on-seven period toward the end of the practice.

As for special teams, coordinator Joe DeForest spent some time working different situations in the kicking game - both with field goals and extra points and punting. First-team punter Matt Fodge made it difficult to work on trying to down the football inside the 10-yard line as he kept booming punts from midfield into the end zone.

Gundy said he was encouraged by the way his team handled the out of season heat.

"Global warming is here to stay, huh?" kidded Gundy. "Our players seem to adapt to it. On hot days I try to get out and run at lunch to get a feel for it. I don't know if I'm out of shape, but today seemed hot to me. These guys are in much better shape so it doesn't seem to bother them much, and our doctors and trainers do a good job with preventative measures for cramping."

The practice ended with a spirited competition involving the entire squad as the two kickers were competing for the field goal and extra points job. Bruce "Sunshine" Redden and Jason Ricks had a kick off with the entire squad standing around them yelling to distract them. Working with deep snapper Zach Allen and holder Cole Reynolds, Redden and Ricks both nailed 37-yarders to begin. Redden hit his first try at 47 yards while Ricks just missed his. The two kickers then moved back to 57 yards from the right hash. Redden knuckled his first try and Ricks missed his tailing to the right. They moved to the middle and Redden nailed his with a yard or two to spare. Ricks missed his try. Then on one final attempt for each, Redden with good distance banged his off the left upright, while Ricks just missed to the left.

It was a spirited way to end the practice and appears to give Redden an edge in a kicking competition that is sure to continue into preseason camp in August.

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