Cowboys Are Back In the Routine

STILLWATER - Preseason camp is over and now the Oklahoma State Cowboys have to adapt to the routine and so does the media. Tuesday served as the first day of the week since there was no practice on Monday because it was the first day of classes, so Tuesday was the one day of the week that the media could interview players.

Head coach Mike Gundy and his staff will remain available the rest of the week. It's not a game week but it is being treated as such. Time for the routine and according to the head coach his team adapted pretty good in transitioning from camp to practice. It is a little similar to an NFL team breaking training camp and coming home.

"Today at practice it was very enthusiastic. We need to get better, we're staying healthy and we've got five or more good practices (need to get in) and we're starting to solidify things," said Gundy. "They did a nice job. We're a little more mature as a football team so that helps out.

"Giving them the day off on the first day of classes is a lift. You know how it is on the first day of classes, so we traditionally haven't practiced on that day and it has been good for us. We're looking forward to the remainder of the week."

The remainder of this week will probably include a scaled down scrimmage, a mock game with uniforms and all the window dressing to make sure everything is ready on Friday, and then a Saturday practice before actually entering the first game week.

Next week will be a little different as far as the travel with the long trip to the West Coast and the northwest for the game with Washington State in Seattle. The Cowboys will leave early Thursday evening giving the team a little longer to acclimate to the time and the environment. It shouldn't be a problem because at this stage most of the players would settle for playing on Mars just to play a real opponent.

"They're excited about playing in games," said Gundy. "These guys are entertainers. They live to play on Saturday and they look forward to it and they are tired of practicing against each other, but they have to stay focused for another five or six days and I'm sure they are looking forward to playing."

"I am ready to get out of Stillwater and go play somebody besides our own team," said punter Matt Fodge.

For Fodge that means looking downfield to punt the ball to someone in another uniform and, hopefully, avoiding having to make a tackle. The Cowboys, by the way, are really focusing on improving punt coverage this season as well as being perfect on all special teams. As for really pounding on other players the guys in the trenches can address that.

"I get that question every single year and I'm really sick of hitting the same guys -- Swanson (Miller), Tonga (Tea), Ugo (Chinasa), Jeray (Cahatham). I'm really tired of those guys and I want to hit somebody else," said offensive left tackle Russell Okung. "Definitely, I'm tired of hitting the same guys over and over."

One player really eager to get going is redshirt freshman wide receiver Josh Cooper of Mustang, Okla. The All-State performer that was almost Houdini-like in high school was eliminated from playing consideration early in camp last season because of a hamstring problem. It wasn't easy to be a scout teamer last fall, but now Cooper is set to make his college debut in Seattle.

"I'm really eager to get on the field again," said Cooper, who hasn't caught a pass in regulation football since his senior season at Mustang. "I'm ready to get out there and make some plays."

As much as he missed playing last season, for Cooper just as it has been for others, the redshirt year was productive and should make this season more successful.

"It allowed me to put some more weight on and learn the plays more," explained Cooper of the good generated from a redshirt season. "I will be more comfortable than If I had to play last year. I would not have been as ready as I am now."

Memories of Cooper in high school include his punt return and late deep reception in an epic Class 6A quarterfinal playoff game against Muskogee and their trio of star players. Current teammate defensive end Derek Burton was on that Muskogee team. There was also the kick return for a touchdown at the end of the game to beat Norman North on television. It was right before that game that Cooper gave his verbal commitment to Oklahoma State. Now it's time for him to get in the open field and run for the Cowboys.

"It's going to feel good because it has been awhile and I can't wait to get into the open field," added Cooper, who said his only goal is to help the Cowboys win the Big 12 Championship.

That goal has to begin right now and next week preparing to win in Seattle.

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