Cowboy Spring Football - Day 10

STILLWATER - What a difference a weekend makes! The Oklahoma State football squad conducted it 10th spring practice Monday, finishing the second-third of the 15 allotted practice in the spring under bright sunshine with just a few big white clouds in the sky.

On Friday the Cowboys fit in close to 130 plays in their second spring scrimmage despite storm conditions, a steady downpour, and a 55-minute delay because of lightning. Despite the vastly different conditions there were reminders of Friday's scrimmage as the focus of the practice was correcting mistakes from the scrimmage, including ball security and a healthy dose of working the passing game.

"Zac Robinson put the ball on the ground twice with center-quarterback (exchange) and I don't care what the weather is like," Cowboy head coach Mike Gundy said of one mistake that apparently got under his skin and he could not vocalize on Friday because he had nearly lost his voice.

"After he had done that he took precautionary measures to eliminate it but he has to do it before that. Then earlier I said we put the ball on the ground three times and Donovan Woods on two of them made good plays but it doesn't make any difference," Gundy continued. "Offensively, we went from wherever we were (in 2005) to seventh in the country (last season) partly because we didn't turn the ball over. Our coaches have stressed that and they stressed it hard today in meetings, and they stressed it out there (on the practice field) and they are stressing it now with the players running."

As Gundy was speaking with the media the players were in various stages of conditioning, and you could say reminder drills. Offensive coordinator Larry Fedora broke out his "round up" drill where the offensive players circle up and each one takes turns going to the middle and announcing their name followed by how many times they let their teammates down in the scrimmage (or game in the fall) and that's followed by an up-down that everybody does for each mistake.

The lessons were taken to heart by running back Keith Toston, who actually had a good day running the ball and hydroplaning around the Boone Pickens Stadium turf. "We have many mistakes we need to correct, but mostly we need to take care of the ball," said Toston.

"We play outdoors, so you are going to be in the elements and you can't control that," said Fedora. "There is no excuse for a dropped pass or the ball being on the ground because you can control that. We'll learn from that scrimmage and there will be games that we'll have to play in those kind of conditions."

Ball security was the theme for the practice Monday on offense with also plenty of work on route running and timing between the quarterbacks on wide receivers. In the two team periods the offense had several big plays, but two of the biggest were a screen pass to running back Dantrell Savage that he broke off for a sizeable gain. Later, quarterback Bobby Reid hit Adarius Bowman in stride on a route up the seam for what would have been a huge profit for the offense.

Gundy pointed out there were some good things he saw Friday in the scrimmage and the throwing game was a big part of that. "They have to learn on both sides, offense and defense. The skill guys to set their hips and not let their feet get out from under them," explained Gundy. "The quarterbacks have to learn to throw. We threw the ball well and we actually caught the ball fairly well, so from that point it was very beneficial to practice in those conditions."

A player who stood out in the scrimmage Friday with two touchdown catches and close to hald a dozen catches on the day was sophomore-to-be wide receiver Artrell Woods. The 6-1, 195-pound Woods had two receptions for nine yards as a freshman last season, but his numbers could spike big this coming fall based on the progress he is making right now.

"He was a quality player for us last year in a very limited role because of D'Juan (Woods)," said Gundy. "He is certainly a guy that has made big strides these past three weeks. At the end of spring we'll put a depth chart out and the players that have performed best in the scrimmages will be first team. It's very simple and he has given himself a good chance to be first team."

"I'm just trying to come out there and stay focused and do everything I can to get better each day," said Woods. "We are trying to do the things that will make us better as a team. As for the scrimmage it was good for all of us and I thought it was a good idea to go out in those conditions because you never know when you will have to play a game in the rain like that.

"I think we can still get better in certain areas, like blocking and route running, but I think we are already a lot better than we were a year ago," continued Woods. "Everybody that is young is just stepping their game up."

Those close to Woods say he is an example of how a young player should work to get better and is exactly what the offense needed this spring with the departure of senior D'Juan Woods and the need to see some receivers answer the question of who is going to compliment returning All-Big 12 target Adarius Bowman.

"We are really happy with Artrell right now and he is really coming on," said Fedora. "He is at a different position than he was last fall and he is learning that position and all the nuances of it. He is really doing a nice job. I think the kid is really going to be a factor for us next season."

"He's coming along and doing a good job of understanding the defense," said quarterback Bobby Reid of his developing target. "Before the spring break he was getting a lot more touches than he has been and he has to get mentally in shape by running down the field on a deep route and then coming back and catching the ball and then making a move to get away from the defender. He has shown signs of being able to adjust on the run and getting some things done."

Woods has been more consistent with his performance on a daily basis and if he keeps making progress through the final five practices then that spot as a starter on the depth chart may not change last names from what it has been the past six seasons. He's not related to D'Juan or Rashaun but there still may be a Woods starting at wide receiver at Oklahoma State.

The Cowboys will be back on the field at 3:15 p.m. Wednesday for practice number 11 of the spring. It now appears that the final scrimmage outside the Orange-White Spring Game on April 14 will be Friday of this week. All practices during the spring are open to the public.

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