Cowboy Spring Practice - Day Three

For the third time this week the weather could not have been better for spring football. On day three of Oklahoma State's spring football drills the players might have even preferred the temperature a little cooler since the pads were added.

The practice plan was similar to what it was the first two days without pads as there was still a lot of time spent on individual drills. On the east end of the practice field new defensive coordinator Tim Beckman added contact to his heavy dose of form tackling, agility (getting off blocks) and pursuit drills. The intensity continued to increase for the defensive players under the new leadership of the fiery Beckman.

With the addition of pads the offensive and defensive lines got together for some group work with a dose of run blocking and pass-protection drills. The two units worked as a group and also got in some one-on-one work. Also, for the first time, there were some full team periods with offense working against defense.

Head coach Mike Gundy had to curb the enthusiasm several times as the practice was all "thud" tempo, meaning live except in tackling. Defenders were instructed to wrap up but not take ball carriers to the ground.

Much of the attention early this week has been on defense with the change of defensive coordinator, but offensive coordinator Larry Fedora is also looking to improve the offense and add some new wrinkles. There are important position battles at wide receiver and the offensive line, and the need to polish the quarterbacks and get redshirt freshman Alex Cate ready to play.

"It's important we get him a lot of snaps," said Fedora. "Bobby (Reid) and Zac (Robinson) both have to get their work in, but Alex is still so new to our offense and you never know when he might have to play, so we have to let him get a lot of work so that he can have a chance to catch up to the other two. We have to do that and yet not stunt the growth we want to see in Bobby and Zac."

With Adarius Bowman still with the OSU basketball team and a group of talented wide receiver recruits arriving this summer the time is critical for the veteran wide receivers on the team like Anthony Parks, Seth Newton, Tommy Devereaux and Jeremy Broadway, along with fresh faces like Artrell Woods and DeMarcus Conner to show what they've got and earn some playing time.

"We talked about it before we went out on the field," said Fedora. "You only get so many reps in the spring and we said don't waste a rep. If you want a job you can't waste a single rep. Every rep those kids get right now is so critical to their development and developing the type of offense we are going to be next year."

As for the offensive line, where players like a solid looking Noah Franklin, super-strong Steve Denning, and the young linemen that came in with the 2006 recruiting class are looking to fill one of the two competitive guard spots, Fedora admits the answers likely won't come until August. He is used to working with offensive line coach Joe Wickline and knows Wickline will try every possible combination he can come up with before settling on the one he thinks is best.

"I anticipate that happening again until we find out who our best five are," said Fedora.

Fedora is pretty straight forward in what he wants to improve in on offense during the spring.

"I'd like to get better in everything, every area," said Fedora. "If anybody thinks we're going to come out and be exactly like we were last year, that's not going to happen. We have different chemistry and different players on the field, and we have to find out what the personality of the offense is going to be coming out of the spring.

"We have to see what we are going to do, whether we call the same plays or not from last year," Fedora continued. "The offense will not be the same, and we have some kids that we can do some different things with hopefully to make the offense better."

Improving success on first and third downs will be stressed. And as Gundy said after the first practice a fundamental that will be harped on will be catching the ball and eliminating drops.

Fedora was vague when asked about any new schemes, such as what he might do to get both Reid and Robinson on the field at the same time.

Yes, I've decided," he said when asked about that particular situation. "You asked me if I decided and yes, I decided. No, I'm not going to tell you."

That's OK too, because you don't want to learn everything in the spring. There have to be some surprises in the fall, especially for the opponents.

As is the norm in the spring, the players and coaches will have the weekend off before returning to practice on Monday, again in full pads. All practices, including the three scheduled next Monday, Wednesday and Friday, begin at 3:15 p.m.

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