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Mike Gundy Puts His Trust in the Hands of Two Freshmen (Literally)



Here is a quote from special teams coach Robby Discher on how Mike Gundy feels about OSU’s special teams.

“The best thing we do is that coach Gundy puts a big emphasis on special teams and we spend a lot of time on it,” Discher told Go Pokes. “I would say we spend more practice and meeting time than most teams in the country.

“He is in every meeting and if I leave something out or he wants to say something he gets up and says it and he coaches hard on special teams. Guys see that and they buy in because when it is important to the head coach then it is important to the players.”

So we are working from a thesis that says Mike Gundy takes special teams very seriously. That’s why I was surprised on Thursday when he put two true freshmen at the top of the depth chart in the return game (Jalen McCleskey returning punts, Jeff Carr returning kicks). That’s not something Gundy usually does.

As Bill Haisten pointed out in the Tulsa World, this is uncharted territory.

That would be a first for a Gundy team – to have two first-year freshmen involved in the return game.

Gundy has sent freshmen out before on kick returns (Perrish Cox and Justin Gilbert come to mind — speaking of Gilbert, let’s take a second and remember his first return for a TD).

OK, we good?

Gundy sort of previewed this last week when talking about McCleskey. “He’s just making plays and we’re hoping he can help us on special teams. When guys come in and compete and earn the right to play, we’re going to put them in there.”

But I didn’t think he’d so willingly place his return game in their hands. It’s all about trust, though, and Gundy has a lot of it when it comes to Carr and McCleskey.

“Not only have they shown signs athletically of being able to maybe perform for us at this level but they’ve done very well, they’re great kids.” said Gundy on Thursday.

“We don’t ever hear anything from them. With McCleskey and Carr, they’re a lot like Kendall Hunter. I don’t think I’ve ever heard them talk except when I ask them a question. I never hear them say anything. It’s very pleasant to be around young men who are willing to go out and work hard and be a team player.”

We looked at how slithery Carr can be yesterday. McCleskey is no different. He’s tiny, but he’s talented. And he’ll get a chance to shine on the big stage in six days.

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