Cowboy Football Practice: Day 12

STILLWATER - You've heard the old saying, "Out of the frying pan and into the fire." That could easily describe the way the Cowboy players felt walking on the fied for Monday afternoon's 5:15 p.m. practice. After the sizzling weather last week, including the oven for Saturday's two-hour, 120-play scrimmage, Mother Nature kicked it up a notch with a high of 103 in Stillwater around practice time.

The Cowboys spent two and a half hours in the heat and worked it pretty hard, including running a couple of gassers with strength and conditioning coordinator Rob Glass at the end of practice.

"It was good to get back to practice today after a day off (Sunday)," started head coach Mike Gundy in his post-practice debrief. "I thought the players responded well. Sometimes after a day off it takes them awhile to get started again. I thought they did a nice job and got going.

"The defense made some nice plays today. Offense also had some big plays, so it I was kind of torn as a head coach as to what I really liked. Both sides of the ball made big plays today so it was good."

While the players had time to catch up on sleep and relax on Sunday before the annual Camp Cowboy dinner, the coaching staff was busy reviewing the video of Saturday's 120-play scrimmage. Gundy was able to give his thoughts on the scrimmage.

"We had good effort but we still need to tackle better and we need to be more aggressive when we tackle," started Gundy on what to the naked eye may have appeared to have been a more defensive-oriented scrimmage Saturday. "Offensively, it was pretty much what I thought. I kind of watched it a little closer, cut back on procedure penatlies with the twos (second offense), but it was pretty much what I thought.

"We need to hit more, be more aggressive and tackle better in space," added Gundy. "We still need to tackle better in space, just have to get those guys down. That'll help us prevent big plays and make us a better football team. I think we're further ahead as a team, but we're still going to need these 20 days or so to be ready to play."

One aspect that plays into the daily work between the offense and defense -- as the two units are still going against each other, and not working against Georgia scout teams as of yet -- is that the defense knows the offense pretty well with Larry Fedora in his third year as offensive coordinator. The offense doesn't know the defense as it is still new and defensive coordinator Tim Beckman has added even more packages to what he installed in the spring. Those schemes with the defense are brand new to the offense. Fedora says that is a good thing.

"It is great because we're seeing a lot of things that our defense didn't have in during the spring," said Fedora. "It's really going to pay off for us down the road as we get accustomed to them. I expect our guys to adjust on the run and they've done a good job of that. We'll see a blitz and the next day we'll have it picked up and we see a new blitz. I feel pretty good about what we are getting to see."

Gundy said, "I think it is good for them to see a lot of different looks. There is some similarity as to what they will see in the first game (at Georgia), which will help us out. It is good for them. The most important thing they can do is to go do a good job of studying tape, and our coaches put our players in a good position where they can have success in the first game.

"When you go into a first game like this you have to rely on your base offense and your base defense because you really don't know what you are going to get. Georgia is very fast on defense and they are like a lot of the defenses in the Big 12 in that they are going to run to the ball and they have guys that can tackle in space. It will be interesting to see how they scheme us. The best thing Bobby (Reid) can do right now is try to understand our defense and how to make plays against it."

There is a team behind the team for the Cowboys with the equipment staff headed by equipment manager Wes Edwards and his top assistant Matt Davis and fellow assistant Justin Williams. In addition there are 12 other student or part-time members of the equipment staff. That group is not doing a whole lot of adjusting. They have a game plan down and for organizational purposes they stick to it. Part of that plan is putting in a lot of hours.

"I just had my laundry guys turn in 70 hours for last week," said Edwards, giving an indication of the workload for his staff during preseason camp. "I'd say the average hours for the entire staff during camp is 60 hours per person."

That's 900 hours a week to keep the Cowboys properly equipped, clothed, and assist in practice running smoothly. Players will use 210 undershirts, 210 pairs of socks and 210 girdles each day during fall camp. All of that equipment is laundered and fresh for each day, laid out in the lockers along with the checking of all other pieces of equipment like helmets, shoulder pads, and shoes. It also didn't just magically appear for the players on the first day.

"Our busiest time is actually pre-camp," said Edwards. "I have my staff report a week before camp starts so we can ready everything. It has to be labeled by player's locker and then also has to be marked for inventory. It takes us a week to get ready for the players to report, and then we have Media Day pretty quick off the start and that is another work day as we have to outfit everybody in game uniforms."

There is always more work going on as in addition to practice this week the players are also being fitted for the new game shoes. The Cowboys will wear black shoes on game day this season.

There is a lot that goes into it, not to mention preparing for a road game and all the work and planning that goes into that. It is also sometimes a thankless job, but the Cowboy players do seem to sincerely appreciate the support of the equipment staff. One perk, and it is a well deserved one, is the equipment staff does get the benefit of eating training table during pre-season camp. Although my guess is they sometimes have to speed through the meal because their work never seems to be done.

The equipment staff will have to double up Tuesday -- as will the players -- as its a two-a-day work day with practices at 10 a.m. and 5:45 p.m. Both practices are closed to the public.

Add defensive end Nathan Peterson to the list of blackshirts. Peterson, a big play defensive performer, ended the Saturday scrimmage with a sack. He becomes the fourth blackshirt on Tim Beckman's defense, joining cornerback Jacob Lacey, linebacker Donovan Woods and defensive end Marque Fountain.

This is the time of the year when pro scouts come through for their first check on seniors and juniors -- future NFL Draft and free agent prospects. So far the Carolina Panthers, Dallas Cowboys, and today the Detroit Lions have had a scout watching the Cowboys.

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