Cowboys Scrimmage In Stadium

STILLWATER – Preseason football camp can be a situation of give and take. Head coach Mike Gundy gave his team a reward by suddenly canceling Tuesday afternoon's practice in favor of going to the movies to see Talladega Nights, The Legend of Ricky Bobby. But Wednesday it was time for the Cowboys players to return the favor in what turned out to be half a practice and half a scrimmage.

For the first time in the preseason the Cowboys moved into Boone Pickens Stadium where work continued to go on up in the nearly completed north side of the stadium and the just underway excavation in the west end zone preparing for the building of the bowl to complete the stadium. Gundy said there also was plenty of work going on down on the Football Pro artificial surface.

"We just wanted to get on the turf and get a little work, 60 plays or so," Gundy explained of the part practice, part scrimmage. "Let the guys tackle, run around, have some extended drives and get after it a little bit. It was good. There was a lot of contact. We really extended guys. It was good work, (and) what we wanted. We wanted to push them and see how they could hold up in the heat. Even though it was 90 degrees or 93 it is still hotter on the turf than it is on the grass. It was probably 105 on the turf."

So after a lackluster practice on Monday following no practice on Sunday, did Gundy get the desired response back from his team after the movie reward on Tuesday?

"I think they moved around well," said Gundy. "They don't really have a choice with a scrimmage because it's live. We got after it. I didn't see any guys that were loafing. I saw guys that at time would get fatigued and play 12-, 13-, 14-, we had a 16-play drive. We extended them pretty good. Mentally, I think they are in pretty good shape right now. We just have to keep pushing them through these next four or five days."

One of the most improved areas on the team is the secondary. Going into the week the starters were Jacob Lacey and Martel Van Zant at the corners, Andre Sexton at strong safety, and Donovan Woods at free safety. Others like freshman corner Perrish Cox, strong safety Calvin Mickens, corner Quinton Moore, and just returned free safety Clint Coe are pushing for playing time. Out of that group who really impresses Woods back at free safety?

"Every one of those guys," said Woods. "They are real talented and real athletic. We went from having one of the smallest secondaries in the Big 12 to having one of the biggest. A lot of those guys are big guys that can go to the ball."

Woods has worked hard to make the transition after picking off two passes last season. In the Saturday scrimmage Woods had an interception and forced a fumble, but he says he is still needing to build on his game.

"I did some good things, but it's still not where I need to be or where the secondary needs to be," added Woods. "It's the mentality of knowing that you have to go in there and be physical. It's still not all the way there for me, but it's getting closer. One of the things that I love about defense, like I said when I was at quarterback everything was so cerebral, tuned into the game, good things happen you really couldn't celebrate, bad thing happen you couldn't get down. On defense good things happen you can show some emotion and feed off the crowd. It's different from what I'm used to but I'm enjoying it."

Besides shoring up the secondary, offensive line and linebacker are two other areas on the depth chart that need to be finalized. Gundy admitted it is tough as camp is wearing some players down, especially younger players.

"They are the toughest days because this is probably the 15th practice or so, and when you are in it this long and you're grinding and getting home at 10 or 10:15 at night from meetings and then getting back up at six to work and study tape and lift. They are out with us all the time and they have to push through it."

There is light at the end of the tunnel as the Cowboys will get their first scouting report on opening opponent Missouri State next week.

"That helps next week when school starts," said Gundy. "We'll give them Monday off and then go Tuesday and from that point on it kind of helps that we ease back little bit, and start to go hard to get ready for the game. We start watching tape on other people and we're not playing each other."

Practice in camp continues with afternoon practices on Thursday and Friday and another scrimmage on Saturday. The scrimmage site isn't known yet as to whether it will be on the grass or in the stadium. "I don't know yet. We'll have to talk about that," said Gundy.

All practices and the final scrimmage on Saturday are closed to the public.

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