Cowboy Football: Emphasis On Work vs. Scouts

STILLWATER - With Oklahoma State down to the final four practices in Stillwater before breaking for the Christmas holiday and then reconvening in Dallas for the Cotton Bowl week, the Cowboys practices have started to focus on the game plan and against the expected looks they will get from Ole Miss in the 74th annual Cotton Bowl Classic on Jan. 2.

Earlier this week the Cowboys were spending more time in drills and even in team work with some of the younger players. It was not uncommon to see players in scout team jerseys going against each other.

Practices here on out will spend more time on running through the game plans on both sides of the ball for Ole Miss. They have an offense that stretches you out with Dexter McCluster featured at running back some, in the Wild Rebel formation some, and even at receiver. The Rebels also can use a bigger back and can go two-back. The offense is very multiple.

The same can be said about the Ole Miss defense, where defensive coordinator Tyrone Nix loves to show a wide variety of looks and keep opposing offense guessing where the pressure is coming from.

"The challenge is they have good players on offense and defense that can make plays," said head coach Mike Gundy of the Rebels. "His (Tyrone Nix) defense is similar to what it way (when we faced him in the Houston Bowl when he was coaching Southern Miss).

"They are going to have a scheme for whoever they play, but they are going to blitz and they are going to play man coverage. I've been watching tape and that is what we feel they are going to want to do."

Most Oklahoma State enthusiasts won't like hearing this, but Oklahoma State, especially the offensive line, is bracing for a defense and a defensive line with the likes of nose tackle Jerrell Powe and defensive ends Kentrell Lockett and Marcus Tillman.

"Their defense is probably as good as Oklahoma," said Cowboys senior center Andrew Lewis. "They have great d-linemen and their linebackers have great speed and they are going to be moving around.

"You look on film and you can see their defensive linemen making plays and doing special things for them so I can believe that they consider their defensive line as the main part of their defense," Lewis added.

Lewis is one of the members of one of the largest and most accomplished senior classes in some time at Oklahoma State. It is the bulk of Gundy's first and second recruiting classes as head coach. It is not uncommon for Gundy and the program to lean on and ask this group to come through one more time as they are the third winningest class in OSU history.

"We've asked them to continue to play hard, to really put the effort in on the practice field and to help the program one more time by working to finish on a strong note and win this game," said Gundy.

Lewis said, "That is the way the seniors look at it and we have had a great season overall. We go out there and get the job done in the bowl game and then we put up an even better season. That is the way we look at it and that is what we are working for."

The Cowboys will go through their final Saturday practice of the season and then take Sunday off before workouts on Monday and Tuesday to close out the work in Stillwater.

There is word that the Cowboys will hold one open practice in Dallas at Cowboys Stadium on Sunday, Jan. 27, with details on that open practice forthcoming.

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