Cowboys Open Spring Ball Seeking Playmaking Receivers

Monday, March 5th 2007, 1:18 pm
By: News On 6

STILLWATER, Okla. (AP) After his first spring practice, Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy said he wanted his team to do a better job of catching the ball, making big plays and converting long third down situations.

One problem: His two playmaking pass catchers weren't there.

D'Juan Woods was gone after completing his senior season and Adarius Bowman was off with the basketball team, leaving the Cowboys without a single wide receiver who caught more than four passes last season.

"It was a big difference, having two guys as talented as D'Juan and A.D. (out), but I'm still excited with the guys we have," quarterback Bobby Reid said. "Together as a whole, those guys can be unstoppable. They've just got to believe in themselves. I've already believed in them since day one.

"When A.D. gets back, his leadership and experience will carry those guys up to the top and then he won't have to worry about as much in a game."

One of only two Cowboys selected to the AP All-Big 12 team last season, Bowman led Oklahoma State with 60 catches for 1,181 yards and 12 touchdowns last season. His 300 yards receiving against Kansas were a Big 12 record. Woods was second on the team with 41 receptions for 647 yards last season.

The rest of Oklahoma State's team combined for 73 catches for 795 yards.

"When those guys aren't out there, you have to take into consideration that sometimes during the season guys get hurt," Gundy said. "Obviously, Bowman's a big-play guy. But the young guys need to step up and makes some plays out here to put pressure on him in these drills and give him a chance to get better."

Gundy counted Jeremy Broadway, Tommy Devereaux, Anthony Parks, Artrell Woods and DeMarcus Conner among the receivers he hopes can make an impact. The first step is securing the ball.

"Last spring, offensively one of our goals was to take care of the football because we were terrible two years ago. I think this spring one of the goals is to catch the ball better," Gundy said. "We had too many drops last year during the season -- backs, tight ends and receivers."

Bowman, who'll be a senior next season, joined Oklahoma State's basketball team in January after wrapping up a 7-6 season with the football team that concluded with a 34-31 win against Alabama in the Independence Bowl.

Entering Monday night's regular-season finale against Nebraska, Bowman had totaled 17 minutes in five games and scored only one basket -- a 3-pointer. The basketball team was short-handed after several players were dismissed, and Bowman -- who is 6’4 and played basketball in high school -- had a successful tryout.

His return to football will depend on the Cowboys' basketball success.

The football team will practice on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays this week and next week before taking off a week for spring break. Practices will resume on March 26, leading up to the spring game on April 14.

"You'll know when he's back out there," Gundy said. "I would say that it's good work for the young guys, but it'll be nice to get him back."

THE NEW GUY: Tim Beckman, who replaced Vance Bedford as Oklahoma State's defensive coordinator, went through his first practice with the Cowboys.

"I did enough research on him to have a pretty good feel of what he's going to be like -- very enthusiastic, very aggressive, straight shooter. I'm guessing that's how he'll be," said Gundy, who spent most of the session with his quarterbacks. "As we progress, I'll have a chance to watch him a little more but I didn't watch him much today."

On defense, Gundy said his goals were to eliminate missed tackles and get more pressure on the quarterback, which could lead to more takeaways.

"The last few years, we've forced quite a few turnovers in the non-league schedule against opponents that probably weren't of the same caliber and then we've phased off," Gundy said. "We need to be able to force turnovers in league play."

Reid noticed an immediate difference.

"Coach Beckman, his defense is kind of crazy," Reid said. "He threw a couple things at me."
REID'S DIET: Reid said he was feeling a little lighter after trying a diet and then going through workouts with strength coach Rob Glass.

"I tried a diet for about four weeks," Reid said. "I tried a diet and it was like I had to eat less greasy foods, but eat more of it to keep my metabolism going. But, man, at about 2 or 3 o'clock in the morning I'd find myself going to McDonald's to get a double cheeseburger with Big Mac sauce.

"I gave up the diet."