Cowboy Football: Practicing For Wazzu

STILLWATER - The Oklahoma State Cowboys rolled through another of those five or six hard practices that head coach Mike Gundy mentioned on Tuesday that remained until it was time to get on the plane and head to Seattle for the opener on Aug. 30 against Washington State.

In the end it sounded like a practice that included plenty of work on both offense and defense, along with special teams work ended up being useful. But the two-hour, 15-minute practice was a little longer than had originally been scheduled.

"It was good, we started out a little slow and then we re-started practice and the players moved around (better)," said Gundy. "The one thing as a coach that concerns you is guys getting a little tired of practicing against each other like we talked about yesterday.

"You have to get it out of them and they have to realize it is important that they have a good two-hour practice. We were out there a little longer than we wanted to be today, but at least we got our work done."

There is a re-emphasis on special teams this season as the Cowboys would like to improve their coverage units on punts and kickoffs, and increase the yards they get out of their returns. Playmakers like Dez Bryant and Bob Bowling are liable to double up and do return duty along with their regular work at receiver. There are also more coaches involved in special teams as Gundy explained.

"Coach (Curtis) Luper is involved in punt more than he was," started Gundy. "Coach (Trooper) Taylor is involved in returns, Coach (Jason) Jones is involved more on kickoff and Defo (Deforest) is overseeing all of it. Joe is still overseeing everything but we've just delegated it out a little more because of the man hours it takes with special teams now. I hope it has gone well and it takes a little (time) off of Joe (DeForest)."

One of the primary specialists on the squad, punter Matt Fodge seems happy with what is going on. Kicker Dan Bailey has hung on to his duties as kicker on PAT and field goals along with kickoffs. For the specialists they just need to be comfortable with what is going on around them, and Fodge is.

"I feel a little more relaxed than I have in the past," said Fodge. "It is kind of my senior year and I want to go out and have fun with it and go out and kick like I know how and everything else will take care of itself."

A lot goes into special teams including outside coaching for some of the specialists.

"My coach, Chris Shaw, came in just to tweak a couple of things and I always try to have him up a couple times during the year," added Fodge. "Just to make sure what I am doing is right and I'm not creating bad habits or anything that needs to be fixed. He is really helpful."

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