Considering that starting quarterback Zac Robinson and All-Big 12 tight end Brandon Pettigrew were held out of last Saturday's major scrimmage in front of the public it was predictable that the Cowboys would get in some heavy work like this before coming up on the second major scrimmage of fall camp on Saturday.
"We had a good practice, lots of scrimmage situations today, a lot of tackling and put our offense and our defense both in tough situations today to try and create a game-type scenario best we could," explained head coach Mike Gundy of the way the practice was laid out. "We had a good practice."
Okay, so what stood out or who stood out to the head coach? "Not really, offense made some good plays, defense made some good plays," said Gundy not really saying a lot. "I thought they handled the situations pretty well and took care of the football. Defensively, they did a good job of tackling in space."
In case you've noticed Gundy is really hoping to keep a few things quiet in the Cowboys camp. The free show was in the first seven days and in last Saturday's open scrimmage, which almost assuredly was attended by a Washington State friend. It's been known to happen. Now maybe the Cowboys are tweaking, adding, subtracting, doing something different that could gain them an advantage in Seattle.
The main advantage in any football game comes from having the best players, which Oklahoma State may have in Seattle. One of those better or best players had better be free safety Quinton Moore. The senior from Pearland, Texas had 58 total tackles (44 unassisted) and an interception last season. He is best remembered from his freshman season for a big hit on an Arkansas State wide receiver that nearly knocked his helmet up into the Boone Pickens Stadium stands.
Safeties coach Joe DeForest thinks Moore may be one of, if not, the most underrated players on the OSU squad.
"Quinton does a lot of things for us," said Gundy. "He plays on all the special teams and plays on defense and he gets a lot of reps in the game. I'm sure Joe is referring to that and he has improved tremendously at the safety position. He has been reliable and durable for us for a number of years."
"I just play football and don't worry about who cares to come talk to me," said Moore when I spoke with him and asked him how he avoided doing very many interviews especially for being a good talker. "They'll just see after the performance."
Remembering back to that big hit as a freshman which ended up being featured on the Jumbotron video board all season long at home games, that was an intimidating hit and this defense has needed some more of that. Now with Moore and the likes of safety Lucien Antoine and linebacker Donald Booker it appears Moore can be confident that more intimidation will be there on defense this season.
"I'm very comfortable but I'm never satisfied with the way that we are playing," said Moore when asked to consider that aspect of the defensive play. "I feel we can always improve on every aspect out there. Of course we have more players on the defense that are being aggressive and being considered more as hitters.
"All that does is influence the others to go out and do the same. It becomes contagious and not only the secondary will be out there trying to get big hits but also the front four, the middle three, and for sure the back four. We will just be a very tenacious defense."
Going into the season the image outside the Oklahoma State camp of the Cowboy defense is one that is ranked 101st in total defense and one that gave up miles in pass defense. That is why Washington State and the spread offense that new coach Paul Wulff brought with him from Eastern Washington is an opportunity to change the perception.
"It is a big opportunity for us, and especially since the whole back four is the seniors, the leaders of the group, and the last three years or so we've been the youngsters," said Moore in talking about the secondary. "Now it is our time to rise up to the occasion and make up for the past few years that we slacked off.
"Everybody is improved and they are breaking on balls and are more aggressive toward the high point of the ball and making interceptions, reading the quarterback. I see our pass defense improving very well."
They had another chance to do that Wednesday night as there were situations that stressed the defense. They'll have another major opportunity to tune up the pass defense and defense as a whole on Saturday.
Cowboy Practice Report: Aug. 13
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