STILLWATER — The Cowboys are less than two weeks away from what’s no longer being called a spring game, but what’s listed as the “spring weekend” on the athletics’ site.
Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy met with the media Wednesday after practice to update his squad’s progress. If you’d like to watch the Gundy’s media meeting in full, you can do so here. Here are some of the highlights.
Gundy Talks Running Back Depth and the Help on the Way
For the past few seasons, the Cowboys have been stacked at running back, and that looks to be the case again in 2019.
On paper, the group of Chuba Hubbard, LD Brown, Jahmyl Jeter, Dezmon Jackson and incoming freshman Deondrick Glass seems like a terror to Big 12 defenses, but the group does come with some unknowns. That’s something that comes with having a robust stable of backs as the Cowboys do. Take last season for example, Hubbard was thought highly of, but he hadn’t touched a college field yet.
“Last year, we knew a lot about (Justice) Hill, we knew a lot about J.D. (King), we knew some about LD (Brown), not a lot, and we liked the physical characteristics of Chuba, but we didn’t know anything about him,” Gundy said. “Can he take a hit? Is he tough enough to do it? Can he carry the ball 20 times a game? So now, we know a little bit about Chuba, we know more about LD, we don’t know anything about Jeter and we don’t know anything about Dez as far as competing at this level.”
With players transferring becoming more of a norm, it can be difficult to keep a room of skill position guys full if they aren’t all getting their touches. J.D. King chose to transfer midway through the 2018 season, but OSU was able to reload, replacing King and NFL-bound Justice Hill with Jackson, a junior college standout, and Glass, a four-star prospect.
“I like where we’re at,” Gundy said. “That’s one of those positions that’s been instigated through the (transfer) portal now. Quarterback and running back is going to be a little scary about guys hanging around, so I like that we have some sort of depth. I’m going to guess that there’s a bunch of schools at our level that would like to have that depth, so I feel pretty good about that situation.”
Glass didn’t enroll early, meaning he’ll have less time in the system to catch up to the other running backs, but something he isn’t lacking in is ability. Glass is the 13th-ranked running back in the 2019 class. Even with a stacked stable of running backs, Gundy isn’t ruling out Glass being able to contribute in 2019.
“If he’s in good shape, he’s got skill,” Gundy said. “Three weeks in August is all about durability and ‘Can I pick up the system?’ His skillset says if he can pick the system up and if he’s durable to make it through, he could play a role, too. If he is, you play him. You don’t really redshirt guys like that much anymore.”
Having Two Defensive Line Coaches Proving Beneficial For Inexperienced Group
Mike Gundy came under fire at times last season for having two defensive line coaches and no special teams coordinator, but with how inexperienced the Cowboys are on the defensive front right now, the extra coaching helps.
Joe Bob Clements and Greg Richmond lost six defensive linemen from their 2018 group. The unit got some good news Wednesday, as Colorado transfer Israel Antwine was deemed immediately eligible, but there is still some figuring out to do up front.
“The difficult position from seeing guys on a play-by-play basis is O-line and D-line,” Gundy said. “… You gotta watch them every time. You gotta see every step, every hand placement, all those different things. (Having two D-line coaches has) helped, and the drills with them split up, you’re cutting it in half. You’re getting double the teaching basically. You’re in a classroom where you have one professor and 40 students or a classroom and a professor with 20 students is a better deal. It’s kinda the same concept.”
Gundy on the Big 12/ESPN Deal
On Wednesday, Mike Gundy was asked what his thoughts were on the Big 12 Conference adding to its media rights deal with ESPN. His answer started with the line: “I got in on a little bit about that yesterday, but not enough to really be able to comment on it.”
About two minutes straight of commenting on it and nearly 300 words later, Gundy finished with: “Other than that, I don’t know anything.”
Going against those two sentences, Gundy gave some good insight on the deal from his perspective. He started by saying he thinks the ESPN+ deal would be most beneficial for the non-revenue sports because those teams’ games would be more accessible to viewers all across the country.
Gundy said another asset of the deal is that it’s forward thinking, considering consumption of sports is trending toward the internet and away from television, even if he doesn’t quite understand it all.
“I have young kids at home,” Gundy said. “They’re watching their phone. They don’t hardly watch TV. So the livestreaming should access the phones, correct? And that’s what they do. I have 17-year-old kids at my house, 10 of them, and there’s a game on the TV, and they’re all watching their phone. The game’s on the TV. They’re still watching their phone.”
Another point that Gundy brought up with the new deal is the flexibility streaming games allows as compared to fitting into a television time slot. Gundy is a proponent for college football games kicking off at 1 p.m. He’ll have a regular season game on ESPN+ with the new deal, meaning options could open up to allow him to do that.
“The time slots are left up to us,” Gundy said. “I think that’s one of the benefits. Let’s just say basketball. You want a 6 o’clock, tough for fans to get there; 8 o’clock is too late for them to drive, you can cut it at 7 and livestream it, and it may be a better gig for you.”