Cowboy Football: Spring Practice-14

STILLWATER - Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy and his staff put the Cowboys through a two and a half hour practice on the grass practice field Thursday afternoon. Not a regular scheduled workout, this practice was the make good for the first scheduled scrimmage that had to be postponed because of wintery and stormy conditions on March 27.

"It was a mental practice in shorts and helmets," started Gundy on his post-practice report. "I'm not sure why anybody passed the rule that you have to be in shorts and a helmet during spring football.

"We worked on situations and as an offense and a defense tried to get in a blitz, a scheme, a stunt, a pass route that we could use during the season next year but we didn't get this spring so that we will have a way of going back to it if we need to in the fall. We had a two-minute drill and on offense worked tempos, changing speed, fast paced.

"The defense worked fundamentals and I had a chance to walk around today and watch Coach (Bill) Young for the first time and see those guys work their line play and twists. It was a long day for me, really, because we didn't have a lot of fun with the team part of it. It was a good practice and the players are excited about the Orange-White game, so I know they are excited about playing. I hope the fans are looking forward to seeing them."

Gundy promises a good show for the fans. Last spring it was a defensive show with a 7-6 final score in favor of the Orange team. The year before that a furious rally led to a close win by the underdog White team in an offensive game.

Will fans see some exciting play calls Saturday? "The coaches will do that on their own," explained Gundy when asked if he would okay some trick plays and wide open offense. "They always put in plays that we say you can't put in. I tried that (stopping them) the first year and they did it anyway.

"It's a game for the fans and there are two things you want to accomplish in the spring game. You want the young players that haven't been on the field in a pressure situation to be on the field in a pressure situation, which happens when you divide them up and have ones and twos instead of basically all ones.

"You want the teams and the fans to have a lot of fun. We work hard for 14 practices and then we have a game. That is what we are trying to accomplish. We are trying to put a show on for the fans and get the young players some experiences where you aren't out there on the grass with nobody watching but in the stadium with 15,000 people watching you."

The process of dividing the teams has already taken place. It was done before the last full pad practice Wednesday but kept secret from the players to keep them focused on practicing as a full team and not allowing the split for the game to impact practice on Wednesday and Thursday.

"I've already split the staff, secretaries, medical staff, everybody," said Gundy jokingly. "We don't bet on it. It is illegal to bet. We have a lot of fun with it. I heard two of the secretaries arguing over who had the best offensive line."

Was Sandra (Swank) one of those? "No, it was Danielle (Clary) and Joyce (Robbins)," answered Gundy without skipping a beat. "Danielle thought the Orange had the best offensive line."

The players find out the teams when they are posted Friday.

"We'll finalize it tomorrow morning and we'll post it," said Gundy."We can't do it before that because we can't put up with all the trash talking that goes on. We did that one year and learned our lesson, so we kind of let them know at the last second. That way they can't find each other because they are scattered throughout campus. They'll find all that out tomorrow."

Gundy said he did not participate in selecting the teams, and that he had the coaching staff divide the teams up. The head coach has no personal stake in who wins the game.

He'll have more of an interest in the third team on the field because as he has the last couple of seasons he will be out on the field with the officiating crew and wants to make sure every precaution is taken in protecting the players, especially the quarterbacks. Gundy will have a whistle and will use it if he feels he needs to.

As spring comes to a close, Gundy seems to be more satisfied with where his team and his program is heading into the fall and what will be his fifth season as head coach. Why?

"I'm excited about the continuity of our team," said Gundy. "Our system is in place. The players are doing the right thing. We don't have a lot of issues and our attitude is good out there and the players are giving us great effort. I'm excited about that, more excited every day.

"I can also feel the anticipation with the team and the people that are involved with this program to move into the west end zone. I think that has created a lot of excitement."

The excitement continues at 6 p.m. Saturday in Boone Pickens Stadium.

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