With the season opener less than a month away, and the Oklahoma State football team nearly a week into fall camp, Cowboy coach Mike Gundy felt Tuesday was a good time to ramp up the competition with his Cowboys as they held their first day in full pads.
“A good day today, a really competitive day,” Gundy said. “We challenged our team, and pushed them really hard, and they battled back.”
Part of the pressure put on the Pokes is with the rising temperature in Stillwater – after a cool spell over the weekend.
With nearly half of Oklahoma State’s games likely to be played in extreme heat in Oklahoma and Texas, the conditions have allowed Gundy’s staff to test his players under the extreme conditions.
“We’re still early in camp, we need to stress them,” Gundy said. “It’s hot today, so it was a good day to stress them and push them to the limit – see if we can get them disciplined, get them lined up and see how tough they are.”
Discipline has been an aspect the Cowboy coach has been focused on since last season, when he said his team lacked discipline.
The coaching staff has been wearing T-shirts to practice with the phrase “Win with discipline.” And it’s something Gundy’s already seeing some strides in from his team.
“We’re stressing improvement in those areas,” Gundy said. “We’re not there yet, we still have a long ways to go, but it’s better now than it was at the end of last year.”
But it wasn’t just the weather that Gundy used to test his players.
Gundy said they did a lot of team drills, including a focus on late-game situations, along with some two-minute offensive and defensive work.
“It was about as even as it could get today. Defense had success at times, offense had success, so for a head coach, that’s a good thing,” Gundy said. “… A couple of times, quarterbacks got away on a scramble and I’d like to see (the defense) in better proximity, but overall, they were pretty productive.”
While scrambling quarterbacks were an issue for his defense, that also means the quarterbacks – which is still a battle between Spencer Sanders and Dru Brown for the starting role – should be able to cause havoc against opposing defenses with their ability to run throughout the season.
"These guys move around really well," Gundy said. "Obviously, Spencer ran the ball a lot in high school, and had a lot of success. But Dru is pretty active himself. He's much more elusive than you would think.
"The toughest thing for a defense to do is contain a quarterback, we don't have one (a defensive player designated) for him. You try to match up in coverage and zones, and then a quarterback takes off and runs it can be an issue."