Scrimmage Puts A Wrap On Camp

STILLWATER - The major tone of the Cowboys preseason camp has been developing physical toughness. A good example is how head coach Mike Gundy has preached not turning the ball over to the offense, and then goes down to the other end of the field and challenges the defense to pry the ball loose, hammer it loose or pick it out of the air. Something has to give and it is a battle of wills.

It has also been a camp full of hitting, with plenty of full speed work in practice with full contact to go with long scrimmages. Saturday night's final scrimmage of the preseason camp was just another example as the scrimmaging started at 5:45 p.m. and didn't conclude until nearly 8 p.m.

Unlike the previous Saturday, this scrimmage was closed so we don't know how many plays were involved and what situations were worked on. We don't know the exact results, but after the scrimmage Gundy and a couple of Cowboys players tried to fill in the nearly two hours, 15 minutes worth of blanks.

"Same players playing well," said Gundy. "Defensively, the corners Jacob Lacey and Martel Van Zant played well. Perrish Cox (freshman corner) continues to play well. (Andre) Sexton shows up, (and Donovan) Woods shows up on defense."

Gundy started off applauding and complimenting the secondary, but he wasn't ready to say they were ready for the opener against Missouri State.

"They are playing better, but I'm not comfortable two weeks away from playing a game," Gundy answered when asked if he felt the secondary was ready. "44 (Chris Collins) shows up a lot. Offensively, (D'Juan) Woods makes plays, (Adarius) Bowman makes plays. Bobby (Reid) played okay. I don't think he turned the ball over at all today, I don't remember."

In general, Gundy said his team is much better overall in several areas from where they were a year ago.

"I think we are a more disciplined team than we were a year ago," he explained. "We still have work to do on both sides of the ball. We don't have a lot of depth. When our ones are out there we're a good football team, but if we get a few injuries it could make a difference in our season because we don't have a lot of depth. We have to stay healthy, and we continue to work young players in practice in case we do have a turned ankle so we have a guy there we can play with. Our team has a great attitude and a lot of enthusiasm and there are more people on both sides of the ball that can make plays."

Gundy said starting running back Mike Hamilton and wide receiver Adarius Bowman both scrimmaged on Saturday night and both made some plays. The big question with camp over is Gundy completely ready to settle back in to the normal routine, back off the camp style of practice, and be comfortable in beginning preparations for Missouri State.

"I think we are two or three practices away from doing that," said the head coach. "We are not there yet. We need some more work to be settled and say here's our ones and here's our third guard, here's our third tackle, here's our third defensive tackle, here's our third defensive end, and here's our fourth linebacker after the first three linebackers. We're not quite there yet, but we're close. It's okay and we get enough reps in practice.

"We'll get into that (Missouri State preparation) later next week. We're still working some guys, we're still young at guard. It just depends on how those guys play. Brady Bond has played well the past few days. He is a guy that has just popped up and handled things well and done a nice job. He's still a freshmen, but he's doing a nice job."

Defensive end Nathan Peterson seemed to think the scrimmage went well.

"I felt the best I've felt today," said Peterson, who thought he had a good scrimmage. "Strange being the last day of camp, but this is the best I've felt."

Peterson agreed now looking back on it that this camp was about toughness, very physical, and a challenge for himself and the players not in conditioning, but in battling through the physical demands.

"We came in in better shape this year, especially after our second summer with Coach (Rob) Glass," said the junior from Tulsa Union. "I would say we did a lot more and more emphasis on team and scrimmages. We had three scrimmages and I don't think we had scrimmages like that last year. I don't really remember. We seemed to have more emphasis on lining up and going hard rather than getting out there the first game and acclimating to it. We (defense) had a bad scrimmage last week, and I feel we are playing miles ahead of where we were last year. Everybody has a good idea of the playbook and the schemes and we are playing a lot better as a team. Today we started off more on key. We didn't give up as many big plays. We did give up some long runs, but we didn't give up many long touchdowns like last week."

The defense apparently did come up with some turnovers because that was something on quarterback Bobby Reid's mind.

"I didn't have any turnovers, but running backs didn't have a good day in putting the ball on the ground a couple of times," said Reid. "We work on that every day and I don't know what to say about that. They are my guys and stuff happens is what they told me. What I think from watching today is we have to minimize turnovers. I'm not pointing fingers because one person makes a mistake we all pay for it. It's the way football is and we all have to keep pushing forward."

Preseason camp is over and now two weeks ahead is Missouri State at Boone Pickens Stadium. Peterson speaks for everybody in saying the players are ready, even if Gundy is anxious for more practice.

"It's been a very, very long camp," said Peterson. "We're ready to start school and get into game mode and start being out here on Saturday's in front of the fans. That is what makes it all worth it to be out there Saturdays."

The Cowboys will spend Sunday afternoon in meetings and then have a short light practice Sunday evening. The players have Monday off for the first day of classes for the fall semester and then resume with the normal in season routine on Tuesday. All practices remain closed to the public.

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