Gundy Pleased With Wednesday's Practice

STILLWATER - The news appears to be good from the Oklahoma State practice on Wednesday. All rumors of a general uprising are greatly exaggerated as Tuesday's frustration was primarily based on a slow start to the practice and more media inquiries about the head coach's least favorite topic of discussion, injuries. Mike Gundy made it clear Tuesday he is not going to discuss his player's injuries.

While the head coach didn't say it, you get the feeling that he feels like his team may be overexposed, so he has put a moratorium on media interviews from now until game week and the first Monday news conference.

Gundy seemed happy with practice when meeting with the media Wednesday.

"We had a good practice, much better. We didn't have to spend the first 30 minutes of practice getting guys cranked up and ready to go, so it was a much better day today," said the head coach.

"I thought that we got a lot done in preparation and it was very physical. It was hot again and that is good for the players to be out there and exert themselves in the heat, so it worked out really well."

Back in the saddle at quarterback this week in practice, Zac Robinson said he feels practice intensity is picking up and getting better.

"It can always be better, but I think the tempo has been good and the enthusiasm has been high," said Robinson who went on to sound more and more like a coach. "I think it can always be better, but it has been good."

One of the popular questions for Gundy, the other coaches in the media room and the players in the media room Wednesday was, 'Are you where you want to be at this stage?'

The quick answer that covers them all from head coach to assistants to players is, no, you can always be better. Gundy was asked to expand upon the depth on his team.

"We would always like to be deeper and we've never been, at this point, deep enough in the defensive tackle spot," said Gundy. "We always like to have more safeties and corners. We're playing with two and a half and three. We'd always like to have more. We're better off now than we were a year ago and we'll be better off next year."

One of the areas that has been marked as improved in the Cowboy defense is the secondary. Senior cornerbacks Perrish Cox and Terrance Anderson have experience and talent.

Cox, especially, has turned it on going into his senior year and has drawn plenty of praise for his work ethic and leadership from strength and conditioning coach Rob Glass in the summer and now in the fall from Gundy. Backups at corner such as Maurice Gray, Brodrick Brown, and newcomer Andrew McGee have had good camps.

The story is a little different at safety where the talent is there, but the oldest player, Lucien Antoine, because of a knee injury against Houston last season in the second game, is the least experienced player. Sophomores Johnny Thomas, Victor Johnson, and Markelle Martin have all played more snaps but they still have Lucien play the role of "old man."

"He's (Antoine) a veteran and he treats us like an older brother," said Martin of the elder statesman at safety in Antoine. "He takes us under his wing and from his experience tells us how to control ourselves, how to control our tempers. He is a big brother and lets us know how to be modest about everything."

From his corner position, Cox can also help with leadership, but he really likes what he sees out of the "young guns" at safety.

"They have really come up," said the preseason All-American that also benefits from some of those guys blocking on punt return units. "They came through quicker than I thought they would. They know all their plays, the communicate real good, fit up well and tackle. I can't ask for more."

Last season, Martin, a Wichita Falls Rider product and Texas All-State performer, started out at corner. He finished with five tackles and blocked a punt against Missouri State. Now he is back at safety and if you ask his coach, Joe DeForest, he will tell you that Martin is playing as well as anybody at safety although it seems he gets requested the least for interviews. He just goes along and does his job.

"It's just the defense and the way everybody is working together, I'm just another piece of the puzzle that just fits in," said Martin of his anonymity. "I feel like everybody is working together and bringing a little extra to the table. I feel we all bring something to the table. We are all together out there as a family and it is working together fine."

As far as the transition, Martin admits that corner is a little easier. There is less to learn but along with Johnson, who had 19 tackles last season, and Thomas, who had 12 stops, he is ready and finding himself more comfortable at safety

"I'm a little more comfortable back there, but again the coaches felt I'd be a better fit at safety," explained Martin. "As far as the team goes that is where we were all needed to move back to safety. It is just how it works for me and it feels good back there."

The concern with all the youth at the position and even the inexperience of Antoine is that there will be more mistakes or busts, but Martin says that gets better every day.

"We did a good job of eliminating mistakes, but we are human," said Martin. "Coach stresses that we are going to make mistakes but it's how big a mistakes and that is what you have to control."

Remember, DeForest is coaching the safeties and he is also the special teams coordinator, so it is no surprise that all the safeties love playing on the cover and return units too. Remember, Victor Johnson also returns kickoffs and Martin had that blocked punt last season and would love to get more this season.

"We all loves special teams," said Martin with excitement. "It's another play where we can all hit somebody!"

The hitting, the work, and the experience continue to progress as the Cowboys will practice at 3:30 p.m. on Thursday.

All practices are closed and media availability has been curtailed as well until game week. The next time coaches and players will be available for interviews will be Mike Gundy's first news conference on Monday, Aug. 31.

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