Cowboy Spring Football - Day 11

STILLWATER - Things were back to normal Wednesday, according to Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy, as his squad went through a two-and-a-half hour practice in their 11th of 15 spring football workouts. Gundy called the practice, which focused on nickel schemes on defense and the passing game on offense with a touch of goal-line offense and defense, a good one.

Wednesday's practice was a return to the high energy attitude that Gundy's seen in most of the practices so far this spring.

"It's a lot better today. A lot better," Gundy said of the practice. "They started full speed and finished full speed, much more aggressive and the attitude was a lot better today and they came back from not a good practice on Monday overall. It was a lot better."

Again, there were highlights on both sides of the ball as sophomore-to-be cornerback Perrish Cox, one of two brand new recipients of a celebrated black shirt on defense, came up with back to back big plays at the start of team period. Cox picked off a short pass on one play and then came back on the very next play, lined up on the other side of the field, and came within inches on a diving effort of picking up an interception on back to back plays.

Offensively, Adarius Bowman caught several passes on routes where he was double covered. Bowman has been as good as expected since the day he came back from his stint with the Oklahoma State basketball team. His confidence is running very high right now.

"You look at some athletes and say they are cocky, and I do go out there every day and put myself above other guys, not knocking their talent or their abilities," Bowman explained of how he is feeling right now. I" guess you could say my standards are high for myself. The word swag, carry swag and let people know I'm coming out here to play every day."

The goal line work was very spirited late in the practice as the defense proved to be pretty stout. The offense did score on several plays, but on one the defense forced a fumble and safety Quinton Moore scooped it up and exhibiting some of that high energy and effort that Gundy spoke of from the defense took it and ran it nearly all the way down to the other end of the field.

Bowman wasn't the only Cowboy catching passes, but a little numbers game made it hard to tell which tight ends were catching passes. In the locker room before practice Brandon Pettigrew, who has a quiet personna with the media, suggested to his fellow tight ends that they swap practice jerseys as a joke. You have to understand this is another sign that Pettigrew is coming out of his shell. Physically, he is one of the most impressive looking players on the team. And yes, he did catch several passes in the practice, as he has all spring. Pettigrew is sitting on a potentially huge season.

"We feel real good about him. Brandon has come a long way in the last 18 months from a spring ago, his first spring," said Gundy of his potential all-conference and All-American tight end. "I wouldn't trade him for any other tight end in the country. He does a lot of things for us. He blocks well, and everybody is aware of his ability to make a play."

The 6-5, 265-pound Pettigrew is just going to be a junior, but his ability and presence is as important to the Oklahoma State offense as almost any player on the field.

"He gives us flexibility because he runs well vertically, and he blocks the edge well enough for us to run our base offense, which is really good," explained Gundy.

"I'm blessed to have a guy like Pettigrew," said quarterback Bobby Reid. "Sometimes I make a bad throw and he makes me look that much better. He can go down and get it below his knees and then go up and get it way above his head. His wingspan, I don't know how big it is, but I can throw it up and his hands are big enough he can just pull it out of the air."

"Since I've got here I've really progressed, but I think I still have a lot of things to work on," said the always humble Pettigrew. "I'm hoping that by the time the season rolls around that I'll be there (improved where he wants to be). Coach (Larry) Fedora is opening it up a lot more and telling me he is going to give me a little chance to shine and throw me a few more balls."

Gundy, in discussing Pettigrew, is willing to go a step further. You have to remember that Gundy has been around a long time as a player and a coach at Oklahoma State, and also made stops at Baylor and Maryland, a school that is known for producing plenty of tight ends.

"He is the best tight end I've ever been around," said Gundy. "Charlie Johnson (now with the Indianapolis Colts) was a blocking tight end and a different type of player. Billy Bajema for what we asked him to do was really good, but they didn't have the ability that Brandon has."

Pettigrew, who really doesn't like talking about himself, admits he hears from a lot of people about the high expectations they have for him this coming season, but he kind of turns his response around toward being a team expectation.

"I get it from people when I'm out and about telling me that they are excited about this upcoming season," said Pettigrew. "They tell me all the time."

One look at Pettigrew and you can't help but think he will be playing football long after he leaves Oklahoma State and that he'll be a popular guy when the 2009 NFL Draft rolls around. That thought has also crossed his mind, a little.

"Hopefully, I can get on that level that Charlie is at," said Pettigrew, admitting that he thinks some about the NFL. "All I can do is work to get better and hope that it is enough and maybe I will get there. It is definitely something I think about some."

Pettigrew and the rest of the Cowboys will come out Friday for one of their most important practices of the spring. Other than the Orange-White Game on April 14, Friday will be the last time they bring in officials and practice long with a scrimmage. Gundy is guessing it will be around 120 plays. "It's very important," said Gundy, short and sweet.

Gundy said he also considering changing up the format for the spring game to be more fan friendly, which you can read about in the practice notes. A change in format for April 14 puts an even greater emphasis on Friday's scrimmage which will be open to the public and is scheduled to start at 3:15 p.m.

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