Cowboy Practice Notes: August 1

Former OSU offensive coordinator Larry Fedora, who is now head coach at Southern Miss, said back in 2005 as Oklahoma State fans and players were trying to grasp his offense that both would understand it better in the second year and it would take off. It did. He promised a bigger jump in year three, and a bigger jump there was. It was so big it got Fedora his first head coaching job.

As he departed he made the observation that he felt the same theory would take place with Tim Beckman's defense. After two days of practice it appears Fedora may have been right again. The Cowboy defenders are moving around quicker and seem to know what they are doing in Beckman's complex defensive schemes.

"They look good to me and I watch the offense a lot more, but it seems to me like they are really moving fast," said Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy when asked about that theory. "They are in the right spot and they have only given up a few big plays, and the last couple of years we've had a lot of big plays given up in practice. I think they understand the defense, but as you see more depth and more speed then you will really see a difference."

Beckman isn't ready to make any declarations just yet.

"I think so (players moving faster) but I think it is a tribute to Rob Glass and not just Rob but the kids and the kids being able to perform and do what we've asked them to do on their own."

Richetti Jones and Jamie Blatnick
Two of the more interesting, and you could even say fun players, to watch in practice are redshirt defensive ends Richetti Jones and Jamie Blatnick. Jones, the highly touted high school All-American from Dallas Lincoln, and Blatnick, the All-Stater from 3A powerhouse Celina, are both fired up and ready for their opportunity. Gundy was asked after practice if they are moving on a similar plane or if one has jumped out ahead of the other.

"They are on the same level right now," said Gundy of the two young defensive ends. "Richetti is up to 255 pounds and Blatnick is close to 255 pounds or 260. They are both good athletes that have good feet.

"Jamie has come further in a shorter period of time than we thought he would coming from a smaller class of high school football in Texas. He is very intelligent and has shown signs of toughness. I don't know if it will be game one or game five but eventually those guys are going to start showing up because they have good feet and they have kept their strength at a high level and they seem to play hard."

Wait Till the Pads
We talk a lot about defense but the defensive coordinator says stop. Tim Beckman isn't ashamed of how his defenders look in these first two practices, he just understands the last two days have been touch football and the real barometer of defensive football begins on Saturday morning when the pads come on.

"We are getting better, but Robert we're not in pads yet," exclaimed Beckman. "You play this game in pads not in shorts. We've got to get better at getting off blocks and making tackles. If you look at the big plays that hurt us last year it came from missing tackles and not getting off blocks."

Fan Appreciation Day
Fans are invited to stay and watch the entire Cowboys practice in the morning. The shoulder pads go on and it will get physical for the scheduled two hour, 15 minute practice from 8:15 to 10:30 a.m.

After the practice the team will have lunch and then be involved in media day activities and photo day. Then at 4 p.m. it will be time to sign autographs and meet with the fans at fan appreciation day in Gallagher-Iba Arena. Following that fans, especially the younger fans, will be encouraged to cool off with water activities like a slip and slide on the floor of Boone Pickens Stadium.

Moving the practice to the morning is something that some of the players and coaches feel will give them a better workout than years past of practicing after all the media and fan activities. Gundy said the players just buy into that theory when you tell them that, but the head coach does feel this will be a better schedule for everybody all the way around.

"We want to extend ourselves to the public and we feel by practicing in the morning it gives us more flexibility in the afternoon," said Gundy of the change of routine from the past. "We've had bigger numbers and the past few years we've had to cut people off from autographs and when we practice in the afternoon we've had to cut it off.

"By getting our work done early and getting it in then we have more flexibility in the afternoon. We put a lot of thought into it. The one worry is the recovery time because it is 7 o'clock right now and they are going to be back out here in 13 hours."

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