Cowboy Football Practice: Day 5

STILLWATER - There were 20 seconds left in a two-minute drill to end practice as Bobby Reid dropped back to pass and found DeMarcus Conner on a post route 20 yards away in the end zone. Reid nailed the pass with a strike that went right between the 8 and the 0 on Conner's white practice jersey. With that the offense won the first two-minute drill at the end of a practice Monday.

Monday was the first day of practice in full pads in searing Oklahoma heat. However, that last score was not enough to stop the steam coming off offensive coordinator Larry Fedora. Overall, this was a practice the defense enjoyed more and that was the way head coach Mike Gundy summed it up afterwards.

"It was a good day for the defense, nice practice, but the offense got tired and had a lot of mistakes at the end, put the ball on the ground a couple of times and had some mental errors," said Gundy in his post-practice summation. "The defense I thought held up and made some plays late. It was nice to be in full pads and play real football for once. I thought the players enjoyed it and the players gave good effort."

The offense struggled with gaining any continuity throughout the three-hour practice that was witnessed by a large number of fans that spilled out of the designated fan area in the west end zone of the practice field.

In the first team period running back Dantrell Savage had a couple of good runs and Bobby Reid took off for a good gain on a quarterback keeper. But linebacker Patrick Lavine stuffed a Julius Crosslin run and safety Andre Sexton put a stick on Brandon Pettigrew to stop a short pass to the tight end for virtually no gain. After a short break, in team pass the defense continued their push for turnovers and safety Clint Coe picked off a Reid pass over the middle. The defense did get their daily quota of four turnovers after coming up with six on Sunday. The defense is gaining consistency.

"We say to each other before we go out, 'Make yourself better each practice, better than what you were last practice,'" said linebacker Jeremy Nethon. "Intensity-wise we have to do better than what we did in the last practice. That is what we go into as, to improve on the last practice."

Down on the far end of the practice field during inside drill the defense kept up their brand of heat with tackles for losses by new defensive tackle Shane Jarka, junior college All-American tackle Tonga Tea, Jeray Chatham and Nathan Peterson. Chris Collins had back to back physical tackles including a clotheline tackle on DeAaron Martin.

"Defense was a lot more physical than the offense," said Gundy. "We have to get more physical on offense with our fullback play. I think Georgia is going to hit us in the mouth with the fullback play and we have to do a good job of giving them a good look. We don't use the fullback a lot, but when we do we have to be real physical."

The point systems and quotas on turnovers seems to be working to charge up the defenders and make them focus on opportunities on every play.

"I think we're getting great effort on the practice field right now," said linebackers coach Todd Bradford. "As a coach I'd like to see them do better on the field and in the classroom (meetings), but we are getting great effort and we expect that over the next 17 days or so. We expect that to continue."

"It makes you more competitive," said Nethon. "Not just competing against the offense, but competing with each other, (at) our position. Tha'st how you should look at football, competition, 11 guys going against each other."

"When you put guys in competitive situations that is what these guys have been doing their whole lives, and when you try to win every play in every practice on every day that will make us more competitive on Saturdays and they will have been in those pressure situations," added Bradford.

The linebackers in particular are very competitive with starters Nethon, Donovan Woods and Patrick Lavine being pushed by Collins, Justin Gent, Orie Lemon, Marcus Brown, and even freshman Jared Glover, who has had some bright moments in practice like his interception for a touchdown last Friday.

"I love these guys," added Nethon. "They are like my brothers, but I still have to go out there and compete and I'm not going to sit there and give my position up."

Besides Savage, Reid, and Conner the offense did have some bright moments. Zac Robinson had a nice quarterback keeper off a zone read action and Hubert Anyiam had a good day catching the football among the receivers. However, in the final team period defensive end Nathan Peterson sacked Reid on a coverage sack situation. Freshman defensive end Jamie Blatnick also sacked Reid, and Jacob Lacey made a great interception out fighting Jeremy Broadway for a Bobby Reid pass.

Tuesday is the final day of open practices with the first day of two-a-days. Practice times are at 10 a.m. in Boone Pickens Stadium and at 5:45 p.m. on the grass practice field. Gundy is looking forward to challenging his team with two practices in the heat.

"They'll feel it tomorrow because we have two-a-days," added Gundy. "Tomorrow they'll really have to be mentally tough and disciplined to fight through it. We'll have to be intelligent as coaches, but they will have to be tough."

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