Cowboy Practice Report: Aug. 7

STILLWATER - The second one is down and now there's just one to go. We're talking about two-a-day practice dates as the Cowboys, following Saturday's scrimmage, have just one more week of camp to go before August camp will conclude with the first day of classes on Monday, Aug. 18.

This week the camp itinerary had two days, Tuesday and Thursday, of two-a-days scheduled and the players survived both of them without any major problems. In fact, Mother Nature really cooperated with this cool front moving in Friday and dropping the temperature about 10 to 12 degrees during the afternoon practice.

"It was nice weather, still warm, but it felt like a cold front came through," said head coach Mike Gundy following the evening practice that ran a little more than two hours. "The heat index was still probably 90, but it was a good practice and we stayed healthy. We got a lot of good work in with the throwing game and still using five or six young players that have got a chance to play as freshmen."

Gundy was asked and said he really likes where his team is right now at this stage of fall camp.

"Sure do," he answered quickly. "I like where we are as a team. We don't have a lot of fat. We've got good chemistry. Other than (Keith) Toston we've stayed healthy. We need to continue practicing hard tomorrow and get ready for the scrimmage on Saturday."

Thurssday morning's practice featured plenty of work on the passing game in both team periods and in seven-on-seven, and a lot of the work involved quarterbacks Alex Cate and Brandon Weeden, who are battling for the second spot on the depth chart. Starting quarterback Zac Robinson has been getting a little less work, which is no big deal, as the coaching staff tries to decide on the winner of the backup job. It will probably be that way again on Saturday in the scrimmage.

Speaking of the scrimmage, Gundy plans on more than 100 plays and maybe a lot more than 100 plays for the 5 p.m. session in Boone Pickens Stadium that he has opened up to the public in an extremely popular move.

"We have another practice," said Gundy talking about Friday. "It'll be interesting how the players respond in the scrimmage, you know see some young guys and there are three or four guys that have a chance to compete and play some in the first game if they stay healthy and continue to progress, take the physical demand and keep it up. We'll see how those guys do on Saturday."

There is no doubt that Saturday's scrimmage will be vitally important for both Cate and Weeden in that battle to back up Zac Robinson. But when prompted Gundy came through as he hinted above with a number of names of freshmen that could punch their ticket to Seattle and playing against Washington State with a good effort in the scrimmage.

"Nigel (Nicholas, defensive end) is one of the players that will have a good chance of playing this season," started Gundy speaking of the 6-4, 262-pound freshman out of Rossville, Georgia. "Travis Miller (running back), Isaiah (Anderson, wide receiver), Jamal Mosley (tight end) may play. Markelle Martin (safety) and Johnny Thomas (safety) may both play. So there are some guys out there that will play if they continue to progress."

Everybody has their idea of what they want the scrimmage to look like. Obviously, the offense is looking to put up some points, make some big plays, and also, be able to control the line of scrimmage. However, it may be more important for the defense to get more from its wish list for the scrimmage.

"Just continued imporvement," said defensive coordinator Tim Beckman of what he wants to see on Saturday. "I think the kids are really doing what we ask them to do in terms of running to the football with great effort and surrounding it.

"Tackling in space better. I'm really looking to see that we've improved there and that we are tackling well and shedding blockers. Then how many big plays can we make, that's the name of the game. It is a simple game and you need the football to win and we have to get the football for our offense."

"Trying to keep them out of the end zone, man, at all costs," said senior cornerback Jacob Lacey of his expectations in the scrimmage on Saturday. "That is what will make me happy, no touchdowns. It's the second year in the D, so everybody knows their blitz patterns and the D-line is more comfortable and we've got some new guys that can do some new things. We've got big Chett (Richetti Jones). It is definitely year number two and you can see the defense come out."

Yes, Richetti Jones, and Saturday will be huge for the redshirt defensive end out of Dallas Lincoln as he tries to inspire confidence in Beckman and defensive line coach Glenn Spencer for playing time in the opener against Washington State in Seattle. For young players on the fringe of playing, not just freshman, Saturday's scrimmage will be huge.

"It is very important," said Jones of the scrimmage. "I've got to show the coaches that I am ready and I want to play and that I can work hard and make plays under tough conditions."

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