Cowboy Football: Spring Practice Day 5

STILLWATER - Common exams, a procedure that brings together all the students of the large common courses on the OSU campus for their tests, caused the Oklahoma State Cowboys to move up practice number five of the 15 allotted gatherings in the spring. The team got underway with the two-hour, 20-minute practice at 2:20 p.m. after holding position meetings early Wednesday morning.

A large number of players had tests at 5:30 p.m., but the other players probably appreciated the early finish. There were a couple of coaches wives and children waiting for dad after practice, so it worked out for them.

The Wednesday practice was a touch more physical as there were added opportunities for contact, including a goal-line team period and the head coach liked what he saw.

"We are getting good competition and the defense is really physical," said head coach Mike Gundy. "I've been impressed with the down guys on defense they are doing a nice job and showing some maturity.

"Quincey Patrick is doing well and Junior Tea is playing better because he is 30 pounds lighter. Derek Burton is doing a nice job of getting up the field, Richetti (Jones) has made some plays. Swanson (Miller, new junior college defensive tackle) has shown up. He has shed off blockers and made a couple of tackles. There are some guys on that side of the ball that are doing well."

Defensive coordinator Tim Beckman is also encouraged by what he has seen so far. Beckman, noting it is still very early, says the second year of being in the system is a big help.

"It always starts that way with a new system and we have a lot of things that the kids are doing and we are putting in a lot to make them learn it," explained Beckman. "It is hooked on phonics, the word (defensive call) means something and you have to learn the word."

One player that is coming in for lots of attention on defense is Haitian native and Fort Scott (Kans.) C.C. transfer Lucien Antoine. Gundy seems to really like the jumbo safety and his habits on and off the field.

"Lucien continues to fit up well and tackle well. He made some nice hits on the goal line," said Gundy. "I call him 'the punisher' cause I can't really pronounce his first or his last name.

"He is doing well for what we are doing now. I think it is fair to say that he is doing a nice job. I tell you where he is really impressing me is the way he is handling his everyday activity. He has stayed on the straight line and really done a nice job. He never shows up on any (discplinary) lists and comes out here and practices hard with a good attitude."

On offense on Wednesday sophomore running back Kendall Hunter stood out by making some big plays. The competition and the addition of junior college All-American running back Beau Johnson out of Butler County (Kans.) C.C. has to have picked up Hunter and pressed him a little. He looked really good both running and catching the ball on Wednesday.

On special teams there was some work on kickoff return, which usually doesn't get much work in the spring.

Friday will be the final practice for the squad before spring break. The workout will begin early at 1:30 p.m. and will include roughly an hour of "thud" scrimmage after about an hour and 20 minutes of practice. The practice is the first open session for the public and media and will be held in Boone Pickens Stadium. Gundy said he is looking forward to it.

"Blocking and tackling and ball security," said Gundy of what he will be looking at on Friday. "Defense and making sure they are in the right position and basic football. We aren't trying to trick anybody and run reverses. We are just trying to play football and have a good full speed 'thud' drill."

After the Friday practice the team will be off until Tuesday, March 25, when spring practice resumes with the final nine workouts including the April 12 Orange-White Game at 4 p.m.

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