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Notes On Mike Gundy’s West Virginia Press Conference



Coach Gundy gets us ready for West Virginia and talks a bit about Homecoming, protecting QB1, McCleskey, the laterals, Jamelle Holieway and cheesesteak!

Opening Remarks

• “I guess I can start with questions. I don’t know as I need to talk about the last game any. I think everybody kind of understands where we’re at in that game.”

• “We had a good workout last night, and we’re looking forward to the game with West Virginia.”

Previewing Homecoming Against the ‘Eers

• Is it going to be tough to get the team to focus because of everything that happened on Homecoming last year? “Honestly, I hadn’t thought about that side of it. I guess I’d heard some talk about trying to bring some of the people back that were involved. I would say that it would be a very emotional time for some of the fans and the people that affected them.”

According to this, they’ll be honored at the parade.

• “I think it’s important to them (the players); but, in the end, they go to school, they play ball, they have their part of the social life. I’d say they should be able to stay focused – especially when you bring a team in that’s undefeated and ranked as high as West Virginia is now, they should be able to stay focused.”

• “For us, what I’ve been told is everything will go on as normal. There’s a lot of history and tradition here with our Homecoming, and we certainly want to keep that part of the day rolling.”

• What about their defense? “I think up to now they’re playing as good as anybody in the conference and may be comparable to top ten teams in the country defensively. They tackle well, in my opinion…and they play aggressive.”

• In particular, the 3-3-5 alignment they use defensively: “Well it’s a little unique. You have to recruit to that style of play.”

• Does Dana all the sudden care about defense? “I’m not sure. He’s probably at a point now where he is very involved offensively. He’s taken the approach that he’s going to hire a head coach on defense and that guy’s gonna be in charge.”

• “This year, they’re starting seven seniors and they have a pretty good feel for what they’re doing. Their quarterback has a good feel for what they’re wanting on offense. They have seven starters on offense and seven starters on defense that are seniors, so they have a mature football team.”

On the Offense

• This was a silly question, in my opinion – outsider lookin’ in. Coach was asked about how concerned they are about protecting Mason: “We’re concerned about protecting him every week. We’re certainly trying to do the best we can to keep him taking hits.”

• “We had a couple missed assignments and we had a technique issue that caused, or were the reason for three sacks on Saturday.” Then later: “We had one MA (missed assignment) and one technique issue. Two of the sacks were MAs on the offensive line, and one technique issue. One running back technique and one running back missed assignment. It’s five. It’s three too many if you throw it forty times.”

• Coach was asked about Marcel Ateman’s status: “He is supposed to start making cuts this week.” Might you just redshirt him? “We might play him. He ran last week. We just have to see where he’s at.”

• What’s the biggest improvement in McCleskey? “Just maturity – just a year into it. Last year he was a freshman, now he’s more of a veteran player. He understands the speed of the game.”

• Does having his Dad an ex-NFL player help him? “Just the ‘gym rat’ concept, and the environment he’s raised in. Obviously he’s gifted genetically; but, he’s worked on his speed and hands throughout his career. And, I’m guessing his Dad has shared things with him to help prepare him to play at a high level. He’s a very intelligent young man – he gets it and all the big picture around him doesn’t really affect him much.”

• He’s getting some of the same reviews as the middle son in your house is right now. “Well, he’s not near as good as Jalen, I can tell you that. But, we’re trying to coach him, that’s for sure.”

• How would you compare Justice to a month ago? “Same as McCleskey – just experience. The more that he’s in the speed of the game, he learns to play to that level. And the hits – the hits he’s taking now are different than the ones he took in high school.” How is he improving in pass protection? “He’s going to make some mistakes, but it’s okay. He’s gonna get the ball and he’s gonna be in there on pass plays and we have to live with those mistakes.” Sounds like Coach is all in on No. 27.

• Chris Carson looks like he has fresh legs. “He does – he’s got fresh legs. I was excited about him coming back and I was excited for him. When he came back this week, he picked up where he left off. There was energy, he was leaping, making moves, staying on his feet, catching the ball. So, it’s nice to have those two guys healthy to where we can offset some of the hits one or the other would take. And then, we’re getting some plays from Rennie and there’s things Junior can do at times.”

• Are you going to be looking for other ways to get Washington the ball? “It changes each week based on the structure. Defenses have the choice, in most cases, who gets the ball on offense. It’s not like it was 20-25 years ago. Now, defenses can take away a certain part of the game, and offenses have to be able to adjust accordingly.”

• Do you expect to see more of this type defense on Washington? “Sure. We’ve had that before. They did that with Blackmon, with Dez. It’s a simple game – it’s math – if they’re going to defend then you’re going to have to be able to run the ball. If you can’t run the ball it makes for a long day.” That’s it – ‘favorite old players reference’…BINGO!!

On the Lateral-Fest and Defense in General

• Is this something you guys practice? “Jordan (Sterns) had a good game – a real good game. They practice laterals in PAT/Field Goal block and they’ve carried over to defense. I’m not sure if that was the best time for those guys to start lateraling, but they work on it and so now they’re kind of into that side of it.”

• “If they’re in the open field and it’s clear, I don’t have a problem with it. One, it can turn into a big play for us and two, it makes for exciting football. But, if they’re in a crowd, I’d prefer they take care of the football and make sure we possess it at the end of that play.”

• Is Vincent Taylor more Tommie Frazier or Jamelle Holieway? “I started earlier with Holieway. I saw him more. But, he’s (Taylor) a talented guy and, you know, he’s got some decent skills. Who would’ve thought coming into the season that he’d have made two option pitches?”

• How athletic is he for a defensive tackle? “Well, he’s flexible in his hips and he has good eye-hand coordination. Most of those guys do – Vili, Mote, Vincent – those guys are pretty flexible for their size.”

• “They’ve gotten into it based on our PAT/Field goal black, and we’ve talked to them about it – there’s no reason to go down on a PAT/Field goal black and so they carried it over into that. As a coach, that’s one of those situations where you don’t want to take their stinger away from them, but you also want to play as smart a football as possible.” Their “stinger”?

Special Teams

Ø You seem to be playing a lot of starters: “On kickoffs? We’ve rolled a few guys in and out of there. Special teams, over the last couple years, at our level, has changed considerably. Opportunities, based on the abilities of kickers to kick the ball through the end zone, and also punters. You don’t get as many opportunities. So, for us, we put a few more starters on units where the other team may get an opportunity, which could be kickoff return.”

• Are you happy with Ammendola? “He should improve. This is his first year. The good news is he has the power and the ability to be a good kicker. So, we’re starting out with a good product and as he matures he should grow and get better.” Why did he get a nickname? “Well, there’s two things. One, I can’t pronounce his last name; and two, he’s from Philadelphia. I give him a hard time. You know I used to recruit there when I was at Maryland so I used to eat at Pat’s Cheesesteaks, and Geno’s and all that. So I give him a hard time about it.”

On the 100th Win

• Is this a motivating factor for your team? “I don’t think so. These guys just live in a different world. You could ask them and I’d bet over half of them wouldn’t know.”

• “I’m more concerned with them focusing on what they can do to have an impact on the game, more so than that side of it. I think that’s a nice mark for Oklahoma State football and for all of us in general. But, they need to get tuned in to West Virginia.”

Random Wrap-up Thoughts

• This was great! Coach was asked if this game can change your season, after two losses – “One loss. That’s right…one loss. I think they know (the importance of this game). I don’t know where West Virginia’s ranked, but I’m sure it’s pretty high – they’re undefeated. I told them Sunday night, ‘This is going to build and take care of itself. If I have to get up here at forty-nine years old and motivate you to play in this game, then I’ve got the wrong guys sitting in the team room.”

• “I think the stage and the game itself should motivate them enough to want to prepare well and to play really hard. And if not – they’re playing a really good football team – if they don’t prepare well and take care of the football and they’re not sound in special teams and they allow big plays, then they put themselves in a situation to get beat.”

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