The Oklahoma State football team held its first practice of 2014 Friday morning at the Sherman E. Smith Training Facility. Dressed in jerseys, helmets and shorts, the Cowboys completed an approximately two-hour long practice session. After practice, several coaches and players visited with members of the media. Their comments:
Defensive Coordinator Glenn Spencer
On the first day of practice:
"It's what you'd expect. There are a lot of guys who don't know exactly what to do at times, but I love the way they are amped from drill-to-drill. I love the way they work when the ball is in air. I love the way we attacked the running back. You're in shorts, so there's not a lot you can tell. You really want to establish a tempo and expectations in practice, and I think we did that today."
On the defense's incoming freshmen:
"We're pleased, and that's the first step. At least I'm not sitting here saying they won't be physically ready for the next two or three years. We couldn't afford for that to happen, and they took care of their business this off season. Rob (Glass) and these kids did a great job, and they've all got a great attitude. Until we put pads on, we really won't know a whole lot, so we can't tell if we've got the toughness to win at this level yet. That's a process."
On how the team's work from this summer has paid off:
"We've actually been talking about that these last few days, and it has made a big difference. Even though it's just an hour-long meeting every week, we get a chance to watch tape and cut up some of the spring and last fall. We get to see what this guy did, what that guy did wrong, and then they go out on their own and go through it. The next time we would meet, they'd be able to tell their position coach what happened there and what happened here. To me, it's almost like taking care of two or three practices. Because of what we have, as far as new guys having to be a factor, it was tremendous this year."
On the performance of the safeties
"Again, the effort and the tempo was what I really enjoyed. We have to correct some of it, but it was fine. With the guys being in shorts, it's still hard to say how certain groups are doing. We'll watch the tape, cut it up and come back this afternoon as a staff and discuss some of it. I love the energy, I love the juice and I love the leadership. There are a few older guys that we have, and that's huge for us. I'm really just excited to see what happens in the next two or three days with them."
Offensive Coordinator Mike Yurcich
On returning to the practice field:
"It was great to get back out there today. Our guys showed a lot of enthusiasm and moved around real well. Offensively, I think we did a fine job. I think we made a few too many mental errors, but that's a typical first-day mistake. We've got to get that corrected. We turned the ball over once in 7-on-7 drills on a tipped pass. The defensive back got a hand on it, tipped it up and made a nice play. Still, that's one turnover too many. We'll go back, look at the tape, get that corrected and come back for day two."
On if he sees a difference in the players from a physical standpoint:
"Yeah, with Coach Glass, there's usually a difference with the guys between each year. Whether it was from last spring to last summer or last summer to last fall, he always does a great job. He and his staff work hard to get these guys in good shape, and they've done well over the summer with helping the younger guys develop their bodies."
On how the quarterbacks looked on day one:
"It's important to make sure that they're doing the right things from a fundamental standpoint. Getting them to make sure they know they're running the right play and making the right decisions is part of it. We put a big emphasis on that every day, but we especially made sure to address it today on day one."
On his first impression of the receivers:
"It's still so hard to tell on day one, so I really don't know. It's hard to answer that question. I think the answer I can give you is that we like them, and they've got a great future ahead of them."
Running Backs Coach Jemal Singleton
On having a healthy Desmond Roland:
"It's always good. As a running back in the Big 12, that's one of those things where it's a tough deal. When you play in a fast-paced offense, you take a lot of hits, so being healthy is something that you're really thankful for. We've got to maintain that with him and the rest of the guys for the rest of the summer, through fall camp and throughout the season. It's an extremely important thing to have."
On Roland's leadership:
"He has definitely shown leadership by example. He's working hard, he pushes himself for practice and he has a great attitude during meetings. He's the oldest guy in the room, and he's the only guy who has played a significant amount or even started a football game. He's an example for the tailbacks here at Oklahoma State, and I think his work off the field has really started to pay off."
Running Back Desmond Roland
On how the offense looked in the first day of practice:
"It was good, and you could tell that we've been working hard over the summer. It looks like we're going to be one of those teams that nobody really knows a whole lot about, so they've got to be ready for us. I think we can show the world what this offense really is about. We aren't going to start off slow like we did last season, and we're going to come out firing for the first game. We've just got to keep working hard during two-a-days and see where this goes."
On getting back out on the practice field:
"It feels real good, and it's a blessing to be back out there. I was out all spring, and that was the first time for me to ever miss a whole season like that. Stepping on that field today, I realized why I play this game. Seeing all of my brothers and practicing with them instead of watching is an amazing feeling."
On the team's attitude during practice today:
"We were excited. Offensively, it was real exciting. We had a lot of enthusiasm, and everybody was making plays, from the receivers, to the running backs and the quarterbacks. Even the offensive linemen were excited. It was just a good feeling to be back. We've just got to keep working hard and stay positive."
On his goals leading up to the start of the season:
"I just want to come out healthy. That's the ultimate goal for me and for the rest of the team. As long as everybody stays healthy coming into the first game, we'll be alright. The effort is there, and we work hard in practice every day, so as long as we come out healthy, we'll be alright."
Cornerback Kevin Peterson
"It's good to get back out there with the coaches. It's good to get our legs back under us and get the young guys in to actually see how things work. It's a lot of fun."
On the comfortable opening-day weather compared to past years:
"This past year and freshman year, I can remember us going out there – I'm wearing tape right now, but if you take my tape off, I'm a whole different skin color – it was hot. It was definitely hot, but we're blessed to have a day like this to be able to practice in, especially for the first day."
On the importance getting a day of practice back with the APR restrictions lifted:
"Everybody has a job to do, and now they're able to get things back rolling. They're doing the right things the right way, so getting that practice back is going to help us a lot too."
Safety Deric Robertson
On the value of being able to work with coaches during the summer:
"It helps because when we do metabolics, 7-on-7, and things like that, you can actually go back, talk to the coaches, correct some things that you're confused about and ask a lot of questions. You really get the information and it helps the young guys as well. Last year, coming in, we didn't have this advantage, so it helps a lot."
On how he views this season differently compared to last season:
"I just know that I have a larger role and I have a lot of young guys and teammates depending on me to do well, so I've got to work harder."
Safety Tre Flowers
"It's very important, watching film that day and getting the soreness out. Every day that we can get better, we need to have it, so it's just a good thing to have."
On linebacker Josh Furman:
"He's going to fit in perfectly wherever Coach Spencer puts him. He's going to keep working and he's going to help the team out."
On stepping up in the safety position:
"With (Daytawion Lowe) and Shamiel (Gary), I was in their ear every day. I'm pretty sure that I was annoying to them, but it all worked out. I'm trying to be better than them, really. I'm still competing with them and trying to beat their stats. I'm still working with them and still talking to them, and just trying to be the best player I can be."
Offensive Lineman Daniel Koenig
On the advantage of having coaches around during the summer:
"We would meet every Tuesday with Coach Connelly and go over film. We would just talk about football, basically. After that, we would go out there by ourselves and do some work.
On leading the offensive line and the possibility of a coaching career in the future:
"It's a possibility. I was joking with Coach Connelly. It is a hard thing to do to coach those guys. There's a lot of things going on. You've got to be very good at what you do."
On how he would grade the offensive line's work this summer:
"I would grade us at probably a high "B." Today, we did really well out there. That was kind of like during the summer. You know, you can't really say since we're out there with just shorts and a t-shirt. Today really showed it, though. We came out ready to go. Tomorrow, we've just got to keep on going."