Cowboy Preseason Camp: Day 1

STILLWATER – Calling it a typical first practice Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy cited all the new players learning where they were supposed to go and what they were supposed to do as slowing down the paces a little. But Gundy was happy with what he saw out of the returning players in retention on both sides of the ball and leadership from key veteran players.

"I think there is a lot of carryover from the spring, but it still feels like a first practice because you have all the freshmen and when the whistle blows they don't know where to go out there," said Gundy.

"You tell them in meetings before practice and it doesn't matter when the whistle or the horn blows they kind of look around at each other. We like to have crisp practices," Gundy continued. "Tempo was average for us and it will be better the next day and in about three days it will probably be back where it is supposed to be.

"We're looking for leaders. We didn't have enough last year, but we know we have some now. Guys like Victor DeGrate, (D'Juan) Woods, (Adarius) Bowman. Bobby (Reid) has to be a leader. Mike Hamilton is a quiet leader. And Corey Hilliard has got to be a leader. You are always looking for that. That is the most important thing in the foundation of a program is leadership because we as coaches can't be around them all the time and that's when the leadership has to take over."

The two-and-a-half hour practice was held on the grass practice fields east of Gallagher-Iba Arena and the Athletic Center. The conditions were quite pleasant thanks to the shade provided by the arena. Somewhere around 60 to 75 fans took in the first practice of the season and got a close up view of one phase of the game that Gundy complimented first - special teams.

"I thought we had a good day today," said Gundy. "I was particularly impressed with the special teams. I thought our punters did a good job, and I thought our snappers did a great job and I was excited about that. We've been looking forward to getting those guys back out there. Obviously, you had some freshmen that played in those positions last year and are experienced and threw the ball back there better and punted it well. That was exciting."

The kickers had a light day in practice with extra points being the only kicking they did on the main practice field. Returning kickers Bruce "Sunshine" Redden and Jason Ricks were perfect - Redden going 4-for-4 and Ricks 3-for-3. Operation on the kicks was midseason smooth with both Zach Allen and Kyle Mariacher snapping and Cole Reynolds and Mike Friess holding. On the punts, which got two periods of work, Allen and Mariacher were again perfect on snaps and both punters had their ups and downs. Cole Reynolds was clearly the hangtime winner and had some boomers on distance, while starting punter Matt Fodge was more consistent on distance. Obviously, Gundy liked what he saw out of the specialists on the first day.

As for the practice, it is tough to determine a lot without contact. In seven-on-seven work the offense and the defense shared highlights. The catch of the day was made by junior college transfer Anthony Parks. Parks caught a fade over the head while being squeezed by defenders on either side of him and another just trailing him. The ball was on the money from backup quarterback Zac Robinson and Parks held on for a 30-yard touchdown.

"I thought T.J. (Bell) was going to get it," Parks said after practice. "I kept my hands up hoping the ball would get there and it did. Zac did a nice job. The throw was right there."

The best defensive highlight came when safety Grant Jones made a strong move in front of wide receiver Adarius Bowman to break up a pass that was on the money from Bobby Reid. Jones moved in front and leaped to knock the ball away and immediately was congratulated by assistant coach Joe DeForest. Jones, a senior, was running second team and has been buoyed in his return to the secondary by an outstanding effort in the spring game in April.

Reid and D'Juan Woods had a nice day connecting as both quarterback and receiver were money on the out route and Reid also hit Woods on a seam route for a 30-yard touchdown. Jeremy Broadway showed improvement as he made several catches including a 30-yard score on a post corner from Robinson.

A couple of the other defenders that stood out included cornerback Martel Van Zant and combo defensive back Quinton Moore. Both had impressive pass break ups during the seven-on-seven work. Fans also got their first chance to see newcomers Scott Broughton and Perrish Cox at corner as each took turns in the rotation.

"We looked good on offense, a little rusty at times," said the head coach. "(We) threw the ball and caught it decent, and some guys made some good plays. I was excited about the young guys on defense in the secondary. Perrish Cox showed up and made a few plays. Al'Darius Thompson and Terrance Anderson too. I kind of say that because we are familiar with the older guys.

"Broadway made some nice plays today. Parks made some nice plays today. (Tommy) Devereaux makes some good plays, but at times still puts the ball on the ground when all he needs to do is catch it and go up the field because he can make big plays. Paschal Smith made some plays and (Brandon) Pettigrew too, and we know he is going to make plays for us."

Reid said, "I have a better understanding of what I need to do and what the team needs to do in accomplishing a play. It's a lot slower for me and now I can visualize the play and it makes it a lot easier on everybody. We just carried it over from spring and summer to today."

One critical position to iron out is right guard. It appears Steve Denning has indeed cemented himself at left guard, but the competition remains on the right side where popular senior Kurt Seifried is hoping to make his final year a memorable one.

"I've definitely pushed myself harder," said Seifried. "He's (Joe Wickline) is one of those coaches that shoots you straight. He doesn't mess around. He sat me down and said, ‘if you want this job then you have to take it from somebody. It's either yours or it's not and you have to prove it to me.' I definitely think I'm going to do it. I'm real close to Corey Hilliard. We've been friends a long time and I know he's pulling for me. Same with David Koenig, we all love each other and I think they want to see me earn it."

His main competition is redshirt freshman Andrew Lawrence.

That is what this time is all about and competition should be interesting at wide receiver, at running back where junior college transfer Dantrell Savage is hoping to find a role, across the board on the defense, and at both kicker and punter.

The Cowboys will hold their second practice on Friday afternoon at 4:45 p.m. It is open to the public as is Saturday's practice at 5:45 and the Fan Appreciation Day that proceeds it from 1-4 p.m. on the concourse of Gallagher-Iba Arena.

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