Gundy Puts Cowboys Through A Grinder

STILLWATER - With an eye toward Saturday and the first major scrimmage of the preseason the Oklahoma State Cowboys went through the final regular workout of fall camp. The shortened camp ends Saturday with the scrimmage as classes begin on the OSU campus on Monday. In Friday's practice OSU head coach Mike Gundy kind of went off script as he did a little grinding to get some answers on his team.

"We had a good day today, very, very physical day today," said Gundy after the two-hour practice. "We wanted to simulate a third and fourth quarter situation so we kind of pounded away and didn't give them a break today. We really made them push through some tough reps at the end."

Saturday's scrimmage will consist of more than100 plays. When a head coach say 100 plays, he generally means 100-plus. It is also the end of camp and the team will get Sunday and Monday off from practice, so the guess is that under the hot sun and in the stadium they will be pressed.

Along those lines as camp is almost over, is Gundy concerned that preseason camp was so short this season especially with a challenging opener ahead with Georgia?

"We would like to have another week," said Gundy. "It is funny how that falls in some years. We would like to have two full weeks of camp. The flip side (positive) of that is they get into a routine quicker. It is usually one week and then you're in game week. We have to make the best of the situation because that is what we have. It is always good to get that extra week of camp because you have them all day for football."

One position that really hasn't been scrutinized in the media like you might think it would has been tight end. The Cowboys lost All-Big 12 tight end Brandon Pettigrew, who was a first-round selection of the Detroit Lions in the NFL Draft and will make his pro debut Saturday afternoon against Atlanta. Last season the 6-6, 270-pound Pettigrew caught 42 passes for 472yards.

Pettigrew was nicknamed "Superman." How do you replace that? Actually, possible starter Wilson Youman says Pettigrew started the replacement process before he left.

"I feel we have a certain role on the team," said Youman, the eldest of the tight ends. "Pettigrew showed us how to do certain things, how to do certain blocks and how to run different routes and we learned from him."

Youman has the reputation of being a blocker, which at tight end is a definite duty. A redshirt sophomore, Youman had one catch last season. Redshirt freshman Jamal Mosley had five receptions.

"I've always been able to catch the ball and I brought that here to Oklahoma State," said Mosley. " "Now, I'm trying to work on blocking because I can catch. We all can catch. We're just all trying to learn how to block better to give the running backs that advantage on the edge."

Tight ends coach/passing game coordinator Doug Meacham did brag about Mosley's ability to catch the ball, saying, "that guy has great ball skills." Even at that you are looking at six catches by the existing tight end compared to the 112 career receptions Pettigrew had, not to mention some his game winning catches. Along with Youman and Mosley, there are two other tight ends on scholarship, both redshirt freshmen, Justin Horton and Cooper Bassett, and all have something to add.

"In my opinion we all have our own special attributes," explained Youman. "Jamal really stepped it up in the passing game, me in the run blocking game, Justin has a lot of speed, and Cooper Bassett, he really turned it around in making his blocks better and stuff like that."

Maybe it will be a tight end by committee, and remember, the Cowboys often like to line up with two, and sometimes three tight ends, in the same formation. The positive is they have a little seasoning, even if it is just a little, at the position.

"Coming from high school I'd never really played tight end. I'd played defensive end," said Youman, who is originally from St. Martinville, La. "Pettigrew showed me how to do tight end stuff and now I consider myself a tight end because I haven't played defensive end in three seasons. I feel a lot more comfortable."

"That was a big advantage because right now we have a big team coming in here in Georgia," said Mosley of his playing time in the 2008 season. "I feel like I am more comfortable because I was able to get some snaps as a true freshman. With them coming into our house, since I've played, I'm a lot more comfortable."

The question is will fans notice Pettigrew is gone? Will his absence be glaring or can the tight ends ease that departure enough to smooth fans over to the new era at the position?

"We really don't look at it that way because when he (Pettigrew) got here he had to replace some big shoes and now we have to step into some big shoes," said Youman.

Youman, Mosley, Bassett, and Horton will all get chances Saturday to show their talents in the 100-plus play scrimmage in Boone Pickens Stadium. The scrimmage is closed to the public.

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