July 31, 2008

We talkin' practice!

So, the time is finally here.

It seems like years since Oklahoma State defeated Indiana to win the Insight Bowl.

But all those dog days of summer are behind us. That's because the 2008 Cowboy football season is here!

Well, the 2008 Cowboys pre-season football practice, anyway.

Don't tell Allen Iverson or anything, but OSI will spend a lot of time talkin' practice over the next few weeks.

We talkin' practice, man. Practice!

Dang. Who let Mr. Iverson into this column?

"We're sitting here, and I'm supposed to be the franchise player, and we're talking about practice."

I know, what was I thinking? I'm sorry. Don't pimp slap me. (Or is that Vito's job?)

But that's really all I have to talk about right now: practice. The first of a score of practices in the next month will have to keep all of Orange Country satisfied until that season opener against Washington State. Players reported to campus yesterday and will conduct the first practice of the fall today from 4:45 p.m. to 7:05 p.m.

Hey, have I inserted "practice" enough into this column yet? No?

Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice.

But seriously, the start of the practice slate means real football is just around the corner. Those fans that need an immediate fix will have a chance to attend the first seven Poke practices, albeit just for an hour each time out. The lone exception in that is Saturday, when the public can watch the entire session, from 8:15-10:30 a.m. on the Boone Pickens Stadium turf. While that is early, it will give fans a chance to watch the team and get a sneak peek at the inside portion of the West End Zone.

So what can we expect from camp this year? Considering we all only get to peek in at the first seven installments, it's tough to answer that question. So, instead of that, we'll throw out a couple of thoughts to ponder on and wait for a final resolution sometime over the course of August (or during the season itself).

Backing up ZMFR: The play of Zac Robinson last year made that whole quarterback controversy seem like ancient history. This year, OSU goes into the fall not worried about the No. 1 spot, but the backup slot. It'll either be Alex Cate or Brandon Weeden. Which guy will take the second-string spot? Cate has been in the program longer, but lacks size. Weeden is bigger and has a strong arm but might still be a little behind on the offense.

Finding the D: If the Cowboys are going to do anything better than 6-6 this season, the defense will have to improve. Finishing in the 90s or 100s this season won't cut it. The offense is going to be there so don't worry about that realm. The hope with the D has to be that it can somehow jump 40 spots in the overall rankings. Can they do it? We'll see. If they do, the Pokes could win eight or nine games.

Will he be Sharp? Yeah, I know, kickers are usually the last thing on a fan's mind (until he misses one, anyway). But the entrance of Quinn Sharp as the presumptive placekicker for 2008 will be interesting to watch. As anyone who saw Florida State play in the 1990s, a solid kicking game is important. That's no different here and if he can come in and hit his marks early, OSU won't have to worry about field goals until the Mayans come back to rule the world.

Finding a new hat: Just how much will OSU miss Larry Fedora? Plenty, I'm sure. That's not to say the coaches taking his spot won't perform well, but after many conversations with the man, I discovered he's a dynamic personality with an insanely smart football mind. The offense didn't miss a beat without him against the Hoosiers, so that's a comforting fact for Cowboy fans. Even so, at the first sign of under-performance, his absence will be noted.

Obviously, there are many questions that could be fired out there, but those are a few to get the ball rolling. While the season is still a month away, practice is upon us and that can only mean one thing: we talkin' bout practice!

Justin Wilmeth is the Editor of OStateIllustrated.com. He can be reached via e-mail at justin@ostate.com.

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