The first day of two-a-days, long a staple in readying a team for the rigors of the fall, saw the Cowboys go in helmets, shoulder pads, and shorts in the two- hour morning workout on the floor of Boone Pickens Stadium. They then concluded the day in full pads on the grass practice fields east of the Athletic Center and Pickens Stadium.
The afternoon workout was in full pads and was a no-nonsense, fast-paced practice that included team run, team pass, inside drill, seven-on-seven, and a final team period.
It also may have been a little bit of a coming out party for wide receiver Jeremy Broadway. The sophomore from Houston caught two passes for 26 yards as a freshman and then redshirted last season after a broken wrist in preseason camp. Broadway has had his moments so far in this camp, but this afternoon really lit it up.
In the first team period Broadway hauled in a Bobby Reid toss over the middle and used two moves -- a zip, zip to get in the clear and go untouched the distance for the touchdown. A few plays later, working with Zac Robinson, Broadway caught a short pass to the outside, again put on a move on a defender and then turned on his speed for a long gain until he was pushed out of bounds.
"You gotta suck it up," said Broadway after the afternoon practice. "AD (Adarius Bowman) was dehydrated the first practice and I thought in my head that somebody has got to step up. The ball came to me and I made a play. Both quarterbacks put the ball where it is supposed to be and I just need to make sure I am where I'm supposed to be and catch it. When the ball comes to you then you have to make a play."
Cowboy head coach Mike Gundy said, "He had a good practice yesterday too. Jeremy is acting like he wants to turn the corner, but he hasn't yet. It is still early in camp and I'd like to know how he feels 10 days from now after he is really fatigued, been hit, is tired. I am seeing fewer mental mistakes and more production from him. That's really good for a coach to see. He's playing good."
Freshman wide receiver Dez Bryant had a couple of nice receptions, including a screen from Reid that he turned up field for a good gain.
Defensively, Jacob Lacey had another good practice, Martel Van Zant had a well-timed break up on a pass intended for Bryant on the sideline. Linebacker Donovan Woods had two sacks, one as Zac Robinson was trying to scramble and the other was with an assist from the coverage as Woods chased down Reid.
The inside drill in the afternoon was a test of toughness as the linemen on both sides were a little punch drunk from the first day of two-a-days, but battled through the fatigue to what looked like a stalemate. Both sides had some success. Overall, Gundy felt the team handled it well, even a little extra work.
"Had a really good practice this morning," said Gundy of the first long day. "Had a nice practice this afternoon. I was surprised that Coach (Rob) Glass was going to run them, but he felt like he needed to run them. But I just saw they ran four gassers and that's pretty good on a two-a-days."
The morning workout continued a trend from the past three days, the defense is causing the high-powered offense some problems. During the team period the defense worked on its daily practice quota of four turnovers with two interceptions and a fumble recovery.
Senior safety Clint Coe continued his strong play in camp as he jumped in front of wide receiver DeMarcus Conner and picked off a Robinson pass. Coe worked his way to the far sideline and returned the "oskie" 36 yards to th 6-yard line. His only mistake was spiking the ball in celebration which apparently cost him a trip up the stadium steps.
The other turnovers were a fumble that was recovered by defensive tackle Maurice Cummings and an interception by safety Andre Sexton off Robinson. Sexton also made an excellent play on an out route by Bowman. The sophomore from Cypress Falls, Texas timed his dive perfectly and knocked away the Reid throw right in front of Bowman.
The offense was not without its moments as Keith Toston and Julius Crosslin got most of the carries in the running game. Toston broke open several runs including an impressive dipsy-do move up the middle for almost 20 yards. Crosslin used his power, and a new added gear with his speed for runs of 18 and 10 yards. Freshman Kendall Hunter also got involved and picked up close to 10 yards on an off-tackle play. The action was live except that defenders had to hold up runners as there wasn't any tackling and coaches were reminding the players to stay up trhoughout the practice.
Three of the most impressive pass plays by the offense came on a deep sideline route from Robinson to junior wide receiver Seth Newton. Newton continues to have a solid camp and is lining up more often than not in the first-team offense. Robinson made another nice throw after moving through his progressions and finding tight end Brandon Pettigrew open over the middle. It was a smart play by Robinson when you were able to see his eyes from the end zone.
Finally, freshman Dez Bryant, after a day off from his spectacular highlights, made a leaping catch on the sideline as the practice wound down. Bryant is also getting some reps with the first team after a fast start in his first college camp. Visiting on Monday, former OSU head coach Pat Jones observed that Bryant "doesn't look like your typical freshman."
In the morning practice it was easy to notice that the "black shirts" have returned and the first one handed out to a player earning starting status by practicing on the field and conducting his business off the field the way he should was field cornerback Jacob Lacey.
"I feel good about it," said Lacey of his play and that of the entire secondary. "We've had good meetings, everybody paying attention and picking it up and we've performed well on the field. I'm real comfortable. We need players that have been here for awhile to step up and lead by example. I am comfortable with that."
Lacey said he and his teammates in the secondary are already thinking about Georgia in that there is an urgency to improve a lot these first two weeks of camp.
"It's on our minds a lotta bit," said Lacey. "We have a serious focus and everything is straight to business."
Defensive coordinator Tim Beckman is monitoring that business and while he is far from being satisfied with where the defense is at, he can see the personality he and his staff want starting to show and a degree of consistency starting to develop.
"That's the way I coach, and I hope they believe in being energetic. But you know Robert, it's not about me," started Beckman. "It's about the four of us (defensive staff) those four coaches and we're going to coach up tempo. We're going to coach enthusiastic, and we're going to show the players we love the game just as much as they do. They (players) are being physical and giving great effort."
Beckman has the point system going within the defense with several teams and there is the daily challenge of the turnovers. It's been mentioned before but it is obvious that those challenges and competition are keying an every down focus on that side of the ball.
"When the kids are in a competitive situation I think that will make them more successful when they compete on Saturday because they have been in nothing but competitive situations since we started camp," added linebacker coach Todd Bradford. They'll respond better in those pressure situations."
The two workouts on Tuesday were the final practices that were open to the public and the media. Therefore practice reports from now until the end of camp will be more feature oriented and will rely strictly on the information provided by the coaching staff and players available for interviews following practice.
The preseason continues with a single closed practice on Wednesday scheduled for 4:45 p.m.
Cowboy Football Practice: Day 6
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