August 6, 2009

One down... many to go: OSU back at it

With the start of pre-season practices on Wednesday, the time is melting away until the opener against Georgia on Sept. 5 - now officially less than 30 days away.

After a practice of over two hours in blistering heat, Oklahoma State players talked to the media about their first time out in 2009.

"It was great," said Zac Robinson of the first practice. "It was just great to be out with the guys and get things going. In the summer you get a little tired of doing the workout so it's great to get back out and do football stuff. And it's always fun to get the coaches back out here and getting everyone lined up and getting things done. We had a great summer and it has translated well to today and will for the rest of fall camp."

The Pokes are practicing this afternoon on the same schedule as yesterday - 4:45 until about 7:10 p.m., with the first hour open to fans and media. The team will have the same schedule on Friday. On Saturday they will practice from 9:15-11:30 a.m., before media day and fan appreciation day later that afternoon.

READY TO GO
The last time Orange Country saw Dez Bryant, he was trying to come back onto the field again after injuring his left knee in the second quarter of the Holiday Bowl against Oregon. After being held out in the spring as a precaution, Bryant is back to 100 percent and ready to go for this season.

"It's a blessing for me to be back out here," Bryant said. "I was out the whole spring and I felt down about that. I wanted to be out there but the coaches wouldn't let me, so I was very anxious to get back out there on the field.

"I feel great, I feel real good. I'm so anxious to put on these pads."

Even so, memories of San Diego linger.

"It was very difficult," he said of the injury. "Later on that night, I cried, to tell the truth. I honestly felt like we could have won that game."

After such a tough injury to end one season, Bryant said that didn't stop him from immediately looking ahead to this year and specifically the Bulldogs.

"I felt that way at the end of the Holiday Bowl. I'm injured and I'm ready for the season to re-start. I'm ready to go and I'm pretty sure the team is ready to go."

While he still has 29 days to wait before real action starts, he's been tearing it up on EA Sports' "NCAA '10." In fact, he has been featured in advertisements for the game. In one flash, he is seen reeling in a ball for a touchdown.

So he's told, anyway.

"I actually haven't seen that commercial but a lot of my teammates have been telling me about it," he said. "That's pretty exciting, just to know about it, even though I haven't seen it."

After being told his video likeness made a great catch, he jokingly accepted the accolades.

"Thank you - just God-given ability, you know. I'm going to use it."

DEMANDS ON DEFENSE
The 2009 season has all the markings to be a potentially great one for OSU - if the defense improves. Each season's ceiling the past few years has always had the caveat of "if the defense improves" attached to it. And this season, improvement on that side of the ball might not mean just the difference between Shreveport or San Diego, but four or five losses versus none - a nice bowl destination in the BCS and the chance to play for championships.

Andre Sexton knows the situation facing his unit. With new leadership at the defensive coordinator position again under Bill Young, the group needs to step it up a few notches to fully support the offense so OSU has legit shots to beat the big names on its schedule.

Sexton said before practice got underway, the defensive staff reminded them of some of the stats from last season - with a focus on turnovers. He said the unit immediately took that to heart once out on the Boone Pickens Stadium turf.

"We ended with probably three picks and had a couple of strips and that's something our coaches have been preaching to us - getting turnovers and getting the ball back in our offense's hands," Sexton said. "If we keep doing that, the hitting will come and that's something we can adjust. But we've also been tagging up on our offense and working on good tackling positions.

"We had like four turnovers, so it was something where if you keep preaching it and keep believing it, then it's going to keep happening and that's going to help us out. Our defense will definitely improve a lot."

While it's still early, Sexton says he's already noticing a change with this year's defensive unit.

"One thing I've noticed about our defense is that we have a whole lot more guys comfortable in our two-deep," he said. "And that's just going to help us out because their maturity it's going to help us get more rest and be a lot fresher come fourth quarter time and that should help our defense improve a great deal."

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