Cowboy Football Practice: Day 9

STILLWATER - Smoking hot! That is what it was at 4:45 p.m. on the practice fields as the Cowboys came out for their lone practice. It was an important practice as the team will hold its first major scrimmage Saturday. The weather is cooperating if head coach Mike Gundy is working toward totally preparing his team for the heat and humidity expected when OSU opens the season Sept. 1 against Georgia.

"It was a good practice, a little two-minute drill and a lot of conditioning. So it was good for the guys," said Gundy. "I think we are further along than I would have anticipated. I think we are in really good condition. There is a lot of competition in every drill and our players are responding very well to coaching."

Earlier in the day, following their morning weight lifting sessions and during the meeting schedule, the entire team was addressed by mega-million dollar donor Boone Pickens and his special guest, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, who accompanied Pickens to Stillwater to eyeball the current stadium project. Jones was also there to meet with W&W Steel of Oklahoma City, who is supplying the steel for the Boone Pickens Stadium project and for Jones' new Dallas Cowboys stadium, a 100,000-sea,t state-of-the-art facility in Arlington, Texas..

"Both of them are very good speakers and did a tremendous job, and Mr. Jones spoke for about 10 minutes," said Gundy of the morning meeting where Jones and Pickens spoke to the players and then ate lunch with them at training table.

"Like I told the team, there are not very many people that get the opportunity to have two billionaires in one room. I'm guessing if he (jones) sold the Cowboys he'd be worth a billion dollars and Mr. Pickens is worth a billion and a half. That is a pretty unusual situation, the owner of a pro football team that has won three Super Bowls and, obviously, Mr. Pickens comes around and speaks to them quite a bit. It's a pretty special day for these guys. I think they were in awe of those two guys speaking to them."

Gundy said that Jones related to the players with his experience as a college football player at Arkansas.

"He did a nice job and related to the players with two-a-days and what they are going through," said Gundy. "I was surprised he was as informed as he was about our team. He knew everything that was going on here. I wasn't sure (going in) if he knew who I was but he knew what was going with this team, so he obviously follows us. He said things that he couldn't have said if he just studied on the plane.

"There is no question that Boone is our biggest supporter," added Gundy of Pickens' comments to the team. "He keeps doing everything we need and he doesn't say a word. There is no question where his heart is when it comes to this program."

Jones almost assuredly had talks with Mike Holder about possibly agreeing to move the Cowboys' Big 12 series with Texas Tech to Jones' new stadium in the future.

"I don't know what (is going on with that)," said Gundy. "I think it is moving in the right direction. They all deal with that. They ask me on it, but I don't get into all the other stuff. I want to play a series in Dallas."

Two different sources said that Jerry Jones and Oklahoma State are on board with the plan and that Texas Tech is the party that has yet to completely come on board with the idea.

One of the Cowboy players that Jones could soon have his eye on for the 2008 NFL Draft is running back Dantrell Savage. Savage rushed for 820 yards and eight touchdowns last season despite an injury in fall camp that caused him to miss the first two games. A 70-yard touchdown run in the win over Florida Atlantic was Savage's coming out party. Despite a slight injury this past week, Savage is all set for a good year from start to finish.

"I'd say I have worked very hard because Coach (Rob) Glass works you to your limit," said Savage of his preparation for this season. "One you are to the point you think you can't work anymore, he pushes you to do more, more than you thought you could do. I've gained a few pounds and people around me say I'm bigger and quicker."

He has looked that way in practice as over the first four days he appeared to be able to take the ball the distance every time he touched it. Savage can run with it, catch it, and if associate head coach and special teams coordinator Joe DeForest ever got the green light you'd see Savage return punts and kicks too. Overall, Savage is excited because he is more comfortable in the offense and he knows with the other weapons he'll have the opportunity to do his thing.

"I would say I have less to worry about because I have Bobby, A.D. (Adarius Bowman), and a lot of other players that can do things at the skill positions," said Savage. "I really feel comfortable with the offense and I have so much faith in the offensive line."

He admits that a year ago at this time he had no idea that the offense would come together the way that it has.

"Remember, I was hurt and Keith stepped it up," said Savage, referring to this fellow running back Keith Toston. "Now we're all ready and this team is ready to really take off."

Savage really doesn't need to carry the ball much before the start of the season. The coaches certainly know what he can do. There will be plenty of work Saturday for some of the other backs like Toston, Julius Crosslin, and freshman Kendall Hunter as the Cowboys will have the first of two major scrimmages in the preseason. Based on past experience it would not be out of the question for the scrimmage to include 100 to 120 plays. The scrimmage, which is closed to the public and media, is scheduled to start at 5 p.m. Saturday.

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