What's In Store For The Cowboys?

Every once in awhile we will attempt to answer that question during certain times of year and during the season, and explain what is going on. The next three days before Thursday when the Oklahoma State Cowboys report for fall camp would seem to be somewhat throw away days, but they are not for anybody involved in the program. Here is our inside look at what is going on as the start grows closer.

Players
For the most part they are gone. Summer school has concluded and they have gone home for a few days. The importance of this is they need to rest and use these few days to refresh and get in the right frame of mind for the start of fall camp.

Strength and conditioning coordinator Rob Glass and his staff have them in good shape, so a few days of home cooking and sitting on the couch or out in a boat fishing won't subtract from their physical readiness.

The bigger aspect of this break is mental. They need to get in a release even if that is doing nothing, so they will be ready for the grind that is fall camp. The freshmen have a real awakening coming when they work with the coaches for the first time.

"Definitely mentally, once we start throwing that installation at them their head is going to be spinning," defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer said.

The other aspect of this is making sure they don't do anything stupid to get into trouble and create a distraction for the team. Head coach Mike Gundy preaches that teams with less distractions perform better and achieve more. This team has done a good job of that all summer.

As coaches, you worry about this week where they are away and not directly supervised and may be trying to blow off some steam. They need to be disciplined.

"Guys have done a good job and (success) is always based on team chemistry, avoiding distractions, and staying healthy," Gundy said last week. "So far our guys have done a good job. Rob (Glass) said over the summer that their work ethic has been really good."

What would problems do? To this day, Gundy isn't sure his best team wasn't the one that won the Big 12 Championship.

"I think the best team that we ever had was the year (2009) that Jamal Mosley and those guys never ended up playing in a game," Gundy said. "I thought that was maybe the best team but we had so many distractions that we only ended up having nine wins based on all of the off-the-field issues.

"In my opinion that is such a big part of success during the season is limiting your off-the-field issues."

The hope is the players have some fun, relax and then make it safely back to campus on Thursday to check in and get ready to begin fall camp.

Coaching Staff
This is review and additions time. Earlier this summer the staff went over the preseason itinerary and planned out where to place each of the 29 allowed practices before the first game.

Each camp has to start with the acclimatization period of the first two practices in helmets and shorts; the next two in helmets, shoulder pads, and shorts; and the fifth practice can be in full pads. The calendar includes which days will have two-a-day practices and when the team will get days off.

Each practice has to be scripted. Sometimes that is just one coach or the coaches on one side of the ball, but then in seven-on-seven, pass pro, and team periods the coaches have to script and work together. Those aspects of fall camp are being revisited and finalized this week.

During vacation, work was continued on scouting and preparing for the nonconference opponents and even the first conference opponent in West Virginia. Work in those areas is updated and reviewed, especially for Mississippi State and Texas-San Antonio.

"The first few practices, in fact Mike (Yurcich) and I met for a long time yesterday about how we were going to divvy up the reps in pass skill and team (periods)," revealed Spencer when asked about how he would go about getting younger players, even freshmen in the mix early in camp.

"At the first of the camp you want a rack of plays for your young guys, so we'll see how much we'll feed them. At first you want to come out in the first few days of pads to find out if those young guys have a shot."

Really for coaches this is the time to dot the i's and cross the t's and make sure they are completely ready to get the process going of first preparing their team for the season. They then begin narrowing the scope a couple of weeks in as preparation starts for the season opener against Mississippi State.

"Anxious, is really the best word to describe how I'm feeling right now," said offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich. "I can't wait to get involved in the meetings and then get to the practice field, (and) the excitement of seeing the players."

The next few days are important because anything that can be caught now will keep the process of meetings and practices going full speed without interruptions through August.

Support Staff
This covers the widest area, including Wes Edwards and his staff having all the equipment ready to go. The equipment, even for newcomers, was previously sized, ordered and prepared for each player. Dr. Val Gene Iven has done all of the physicals and head football trainer Kevin Blaske and Sports Medicine supervisor John Stemm have their staffs ready to go.

Rob Glass and his staff take a breath, catch a short break and then they have to be ready for the accompanying strength and conditioning that goes on during camp. This used to be a lot more before they had the full participation in the summer program, but now it is the start of in-season maintenance.

Upstairs at the training table, the kitchen staff has been completed, trained and food ordered for all the meals from breakfast to dinner for the players and all the support staff each day.

Recruiting continues with Johnny Barr and his assistant Mike Groce. They also are preparing for another edition of Extreme Camp where fans pay for the opportunity to report for camp with the players and experience the first weekend of the preparation for the upcoming season.

Jeff Naple and his assistant Zach Ramsey have the video crews ready and their computers programmed for the massive video examination of every drill and every play in fall camp.

The busiest man in the facility is Mack Butler, and he's helped by his assistant Rod Johnson as football operations means making sure everything is in place. The schedule is fine-tuned to make sure everything needed is there and every aspect of the camp is covered from security to snacks to speakers for the players to educate them on what they need to know.

The day literally begins and ends with Mack Butler's schedule. Add to that the preparation that continues in finalizing every road trip and every week's schedule during the season.

(EDITOR'S NOTE: The Cowboys players report on Thursday, first practice is early Friday, and Fan Appreciation Day is Saturday.)

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