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Cowboys Coaches Talk Linebackers

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The Oklahoma State football team practiced dressed in full pads Wednesday morning on the grass practice fields adjacent to Gallagher-Iba Arena. It was the first of two scheduled Wednesday practices. After the two-hour session, linebackers coach Glenn Spencer talked about his position group:

On the depth of the Oklahoma State linebackers:

"There are a lot of twos who are getting reps with the ones now. I'm trying to mix and match to make sure that I'm seeing everybody against the best competition that they can go against in fall camp so I can get a better evaluation of who's getting better and who's playing better against better competition at times. I'm rotating those ones and twos and the threes are even getting some reps up top, so it goes back to having a lot of guys that can play and trying to develop as much depth as I can, knowing that during the course of a season, that's going to pay off big dividends. We're going to get banged up. We're going to get bruised – those things happen, not to mention limiting the total number of reps that one guy can get so you've got some fresh legs in the fourth quarter."

On what Ryan Simmons brings:

"Ryan has had a good camp. The deficiency is that there are some mental errors that he'll clean up. A lot of that has to do with getting repetitions - with him getting some looks over and over again. He's just got a natural flow in the box. He does a great job with his hands. He can pull the trigger once he deciphers what's going on. The game is starting to slow down for him as far as what the offense looks like to him. When you're out there as a freshman, everything is really fast. You're playing with the same amount of speed, you're going hard but what you're seeing starts to slow down and it's starting to get that way for him."

On Lyndell Johnson's game:

"He's a very fluid player. He has tremendous instincts. We're trying to bulk him up a little bit more so he'll be more durable. He gets banged up a little bit. He's learning to play more physically and he wants to play more physically - that part of his game is improving weekly. He has an advantage because of his mobility and his moving out there in the perimeter game. He gives us an advantage in a lot of areas, especially with the kind of ball we play in the Big 12."

On Nico Ornelas:

"He's similar to Lyndell in that he's very good out there on the perimeter. Same thing – we're bulking him up, he's learning to be a physical player. Just watching him out there in practice in camp, he's not shy. He loves to stick his face in there. He's a guy that gives you a little bit more in the passing game than in the running game right now. Going back to my whole group, it's great to have guys that have different strengths than others. It's up to me to get those matchups right on the field."

On improvement among the starters:

"We all have deficiencies to improve on. I mention that to them every day of their life – things they have to improve on. They're making strides. Shaun Lewis is being more instinctive than I've ever seen him. He has a great knack for anticipating. There's a fine line between anticipation and guessing and he pushes the limit there and it allows him to make big plays. He's done that this camp.

"Caleb Lavey is quicker. He has a great aptitude for the scheme and for getting to the spot where he needs to be and getting there quick and making up for when somebody else might lose their assignment. Somebody up front of him loses their gap and he's going to overlap and overtake it – shoot, you just don't get that out of many people.

"Alex is developing great, just like I thought he would. It's just a continual process with him. From fall to spring and now from spring into camp. Every day, I see the light come on for him for different things. It's a process, but none of them have arrived. It's a journey that we're all on, but yes, they have made improvement."

On if Alex Elkins' greatest improvement has come in the understanding of the defense:

"Yes. We've had a few practices now, but he's not a finished product. I don't know if any of them will ever be. We're working for perfection, but we'll accept excellence. That's what he's trying to do. He's got a further way to go than the rest of them, but as long as he's making improvements, I'm very pleased."

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