Cowboys Final Scrimmage Short & Crisp

STILLWATER - It wasn't a short practice as the Cowboys were on the very toasty field turf surface on Boone Pickens Stadium for more than two and a half hours. But the scrimmage was short as head coach Mike Gundy put the team through the final preseason scrimmage, and now work will totally be focused from here until Sept. 2 on the opening opponent Missouri State.

"We had a nice little 60-play scrimmage and got some work done," Gundy said in the post-practice meeting with reporters. "It was good to be out on the field to get a feel for the turf and the heat and being in a game-type atmosphere. Players did well today and had good effort and a nice practice. The good thing was we were able to put our players in situations that they will be in during most games, but we don't get a lot of work on it and see the mistakes that they made and get them corrected."

Gundy said Wednesday's scrimmage was more situational and game like with officials and dealing with a wide variety of situations.

"We worked on units on and off the field," added Gundy. "We worked on special teams. We worked on a lot of situations that don't get as much work in a normal preseason practice."

The Cowboys will go through the annual scripted practice on Saturday that will mimic a game right down to coming out for warmups, wearing game uniforms, coaches in the press box on headsets, and every conceivable situation that could come up in a game.

"Saturday will be an entire game day scenario, about 80 plays," said Gundy. "It is just thud, not tackle."

The starting specialists have been informed by special teams coordinator Joe DeForest as sophomore Jason Ricks won a tight battle for the PAT and field goal kicking job. Ricks will also handle kickoffs. Matt Fodge will be in his second season of punting for the Cowboys. Redshirt freshman backup punter Cole Reynolds, a former high school quarterback, will be the holder on placements. Returning snapper Zach Allen will again handle PAT and field goal snaps, and picks up the punt snap duty.

Fodge will try to improve on his 39.9 average from his freshman season. Fodge said moving to a standard punt formation from the shield formation used last season will help and he has also gained from his season of collegiate experience.

"It's going great," said Fodge. "I've been kicking a lot the last couple of weeks because of preseason and such. I just go out there and stay fresh and I'm still working on my drills, just trying to stay consistent because it is more about the quality of my kicks than the quantity right now."

The kicking job was the tightest race pitting Ricks, who hit 11-of-16 field goals, including a 55-yarder, and was 47-of-49 on PAT as a freshman in 2004. He missed last season with a quad injury. Bruce Redden was very successful in his place as he hit 11-of-14 field goals and 23-of-24 PAT. The two were neck and neck right up to the deadline set by DeForest.

"At the very start of camp he said I will find a starter by the end of two-a-days," Ricks said of what DeForest told them. "That's the way it was my freshman year and the way it was last year. That's the way he likes to do it. We were pretty much dead even the last couple of days. I knew it was going to be really close."

It was a relief for Ricks, who was determined to get back in the mix after the inactivity of last season.

"It was really tough mentally for me and then to see a guy go out there and do so well," Ricks said of last season. "Then our team was struggling and that was tough to watch, but the big thing for me was sitting up in the stands with my parents and I said I'm never doing this again. I'll work so hard and do whatever I have to do."

The interesting aspect of this is that all of the specialists are together all of practice, either on the main field or working exclusively together on the other field. It's a tight group, and Ricks said he has great respect for Redden, who pushed him hard throughout spring and the preseason.

"Me and Bruce (Redden) are great friends. We've been great friends since he stepped out on the field," added Ricks. "I thought he was a funny guy. Honestly, I think he is the best guy I've ever competed with one on one.

"Really it is pretty interesting to be a part of this group because we are all pretty talented and can all do a variety of things," Fodge answered about the camraderie of the specialists. "Bruce and Ricks both are great kickers, but unfortunately you have to chose one. Off the field they get along great and they are still competing. Punting it is great to have two punters out there banging 50-yarders every day. We're still competing because we never give up going out there trying to do our best and that will make us better on special teams."

The competition will help because if anyone should falter they know there is someone else capable and ready to jump in. Competition truly makes everybody better.

Practice continues Thursday at 4 p.m. All practices are closed to the public.

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