By Jason Elmquist
CNHI News Service
STILLWATER – The late-summer heat picked up just in time for the Oklahoma State football team to feel its full effect for Tuesday’s first practice day of full pads.
“We had those first couple of humid days, which was good to get used to because that’s how the indoor environment is going to be,” OSU senior lineman Parker Graham said. “Now, we’re getting the heat, which is going to be Oklahoma (weather). It’s not a factor for us. We’re just going to grit through it. With each day, it’s going to get, hopefully, hotter so we can keep testing ourselves and keep pushing.”
Cowboy coach Mike Gundy had said after the first two days of practice that the linemen were the difficult groups to evaluate until pads were put on. And Graham’s assessment of his fellow big men – most of which are looking to replace tenured starters – was glowing.
“I think it went really well for the first day of pads,” Graham said. We’re still working out the kinks with five new guys playing together, but for where we’re at right now, I’m really impressed by how the young guys stepped up. Everything is pretty fluid right now and it’s impressive.”
Gundy found it difficult to assess the offensive line because of the performance of the defensive players in the trenches. With All-Big 12 defensive lineman Calvin Barnett and returning starters James Castleman and Tyler Johnson going at it, it’s understandable.
“I think our defensive line was aggressive and came hard off the ball and that makes it hard for our offense to make plays,” Gundy said. “That’s really what I see. I see an offense that’s very similar to what we’ve had in the past up to this point. But I see a group of guys on defense who are in attack mode.”
With the heat up from the cooler temperatures the players got to work with Friday and Saturday mornings, Gundy said his players hit a wall about midway through the padded practice. Fortunately, things ended on a high note for the Cowboys, who are predicted to win their second Big 12 Conference championship in three years.
“When we kicked the music on, I think it made us play a little faster and it picked the tempo up,” Gundy said.
– Jason Elmquist is the sports editor for the Stillwater NewsPress.