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The Rundown: Gundy on Postponement, Spencer Sanders

Gundy gives some good insight into Spencer Sansders’ leadership.

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[Photo via Rob Ferguson-USA TODAY Sports]

For the second straight week, Mike Gundy had his weekly news conference on a Thursday because of a bye.

Oklahoma State’s coached talked about the postponement, OSU trying to find a new foe and Spencer Sanders. Here is everything he touched on.

Opening Statement

“Well obviously not a lot of comments, just practice. Very similar routine to what we had last week, where the players get some work in and take a little break over the weekend and get ready to play a game next Saturday. Just continue on. We’re just banging away every day.”

On how similar this is to the Tulsa delay

“It’s interesting, nothing surprises them anymore. Nothing is a surprise to the staff. The bounce back from the players in the Tulsa week was considerably more than it was this week.”

On if he feels good about the way the players have gone through the bye-week routine again

“They’ve practice well. Their attitudes are good. Our enthusiasm’s good, effort’s good. We’re getting a lot of work accomplished. I feel about as good as a guy can feel going through another open week.”

On if the extended time off can take away from the teams “game readiness”

“I hope not. I’m not sure. It’d be hard for me to answer. I’ve not been down this road before. The only thing I can go on is watching our guys in practice, and they seem to be doing very well at this time.”

On trying to find another opponent for the week

“Coach [Mike] Holder and I discussed trying to find another opponent for this week. We were unsuccessful. I’m not sure exactly how many people, or coaches I should say or organizations, that we were able actually to pursue, but we had those discussions based on we’re trying to play as many games as possible while we’re healthy and take advantage of Saturdays.

“I think you hope that you don’t have an outbreak, and it could happen at any time. If it happens, then there’s a chance that you might miss two games, if not significant players for at least one. When you have a group that’s ready and healthy based on our testing, we just hate to let a weekend get by without playing a game.”

On Iowa State and Texas being tougher opponents

“We’re getting ready to get into a pretty good run here of games as you guys know. We’re not in a position to look by anybody or much less look by today’s practice. I’ve said this for the last 10 days in that we’re gonna find out a lot about our football team over the next month. We’re gonna play some teams that can really put pressure on the perimeter, they’re athletic, quarterback play is good, and we’ll know a lot more about where we’re at, find more information on our conditioning, things like that. We just have to worry about practicing today and then come back and try to have the best week we can to get ready to play Iowa State.”

On stopping Iowa State’s tight ends

“They play really well with tight ends. They have for a number of years now. They make a lot of plays with them, so we have to stop those guys. They’ve recruited guys that have height and reach. They’ve had success with that. It’s a big part of their offense.”

On the home game atmosphere despite COVID restrictions

“I thought our fans were fantastic. I mentioned this after the Tulsa and West Virginia games that I thought we actually even influenced snap count for the visiting team. I think there’s 15, 16,000 people in the stands, I’m not sure, but they were loud. I actually thought they affected the game.”

On Spencer Sanders

“He’s doing just fine. [Sanders and Shane Illingworth] are getting equal reps and seem to be doing very well.

“He’s gotta be getting close [to 100 percent]. You never really know until you get in a game, but I thought he was pretty close before we played Kansas, so he’s moving that way. I can’t imagine that he won’t be 100 percent.”

On if scheduling a Big 12 opponent for this week was a possibility

“Our first choice would’ve been a Big 12 opponent to try to fit one in where there was availability to potentially open up a later date in case there was an outbreak.

“I was not in those conversations. I was asked what I thought about it, and I was 100 percent in agreement with it. But I didn’t get in those conversations. I would venture to guess that the conference would, well with this year, I think everything is free game. I think the conference would’ve been all for it. It could’ve allowed a little flexibility for us and another team in this league later with an outbreak. I think the conference wants us to play as many games as possible just like we do.”

On Iowa State’s old school offense

“It’s different than what you would see from most of us that play offensive football today. That’s the concept that Matt [Campbell] has gone with. It’s a little different approach, but they do some really good things out of it. It’s a challenge for a defense to be able to contain those type of plays where you get a lot of inside zone blocking with the tight ends and you get some pull plays and things that you don’t see with two tight ends much today, much less three tight ends.

“It’s a challenge, but hopefully our guys will come up with a nice plan and get some quality reps on it and to help us play well defensively in the game.”

On if the defense should have confidence considering its performance against Iowa State last season

“I think our defense has a lot of confidence, I really do. I watch in practice. They enjoy each other. They’re playing reckless at this point, which I think is a valuable asset for a defense. I’m looking forward to the next game, and as we progress over the next month, watching and seeing how we develop and finding out how good we are on defense.

“That’s the strategic part that I really enjoy in coaching is when we get out there a week from Saturday, we find out how good the schemes we have and how good of coaches we are based on the players. The results on the field by the players tell us coaches if we’ve done a good job each week. There’s the clear-cut evidence. So it’ll be interesting to see how it all falls.”

On what has been the biggest challenge for him this season

“Personally for me, it’s been the organization and structure. Our calendar here for 15 years has been done one year in advance. I’m having to change meetings, practices, times, lifts, meals, all the different things that we have in place to give our players the best chance for success, has been altered every three to four days. For me, that takes a lot of time because you can’t just throw things together. There has to be a lot of thought involved in what we do here. Questions have to be asked to Rob Glass in strength and conditioning, our nutritionists, our coordinators, the players.

“I met with the players on Tuesday, our committee, anyway, and asked them what they thought about practices and where we’re at as a team. The challenge for me has just been altering our schedule when I’ve not had to do that basically in 15 years.”

On the extra bye week

“The change in plans, the way we went about getting to our layout for this week and next week, which I just discussed, if we win the game, it’ll be a good decision. If we don’t win the game, it’ll be a bad decision. That’s why I don’t like altering what my plans have been for 15 years, where we’re so far in advance. We just have to feel our way through it. I go back to listening to the players and watching practice to see what kind of enthusiasm and effort we have because that’s where you’re at, right?

“The guys like to play games. When you put a lot of time and effort in and don’t get to play a game, then as a young person, 18, 19, 20, 21 year old, you have to really focus and find the direction to say, ‘I’m gonna work hard another two weeks to get ready to play this game. I’m not gonna take a week off.’ You just don’t have that flexibility when you’re playing quality opponents to take three or four days off and then come back next week in the sport of football, in my opinion. There’s just too many things that have to happen every day to keep our bodies in shape to perform at the highest level.”

On LD Brown

“He’s enjoying his career, his senior year. He smiles every day. He’s comfortable with himself. He’s turned it loose. He’s become a physical pass-blocker. He’s a good receiver if we want to use him, and he’s running hard. And he’s had a taste of success early in the season, which makes him want more. He’s been a very pleasant surprise for us because of his attitude and his effort and the enthusiasm that he brings to our team every day.”

On how Spencer Sanders’ leadership has been throughout his injury

“It’s effected his development because he’s not out there. It’s always interesting to me how some coaches will say that players really developed their leadership skills and if they’re not playing, I don’t know how you do that. If you’re not practicing full speed, I don’t know how you do that. Because in this organization, you have to practice full speed and you have to be competitive on game day in order for anybody to say you’re gonna be a leader.

“It’s not anything he’s done wrong, he just hasn’t been out there in a month. For that reason, he’s gotta reestablish himself as a practice player, which he has, he’s practiced well this week, and then reestablish himself as a leader and a competitor on game day in order for that to happen. That’s not just a free ticket. You don’t get that for free. That has to be earned. He’s been set back a month just based on what’s happened.”

On how different and similar Sanders is as a leader comparted to Chuba Hubbard, Tylan Wallace and Dillon Stoner

“Spencer is a really good practice player, and he’s very competitive on game days, as you guys know. He’s gonna fight until the end. You’re gonna have to drag him off the field. We’re working to control his emotions on game day. It’s not a disrespectful, negative emotion, but he gets so caught up in the moment that he wants to win so bad. At times, he needs to settle a little bit.

“Those are things that we were working through with him all the way up to he was injured in the Tulsa game. That’s an ongoing process with a young player. I said this the other day, I don’t know who all heard it, but he’s still a young football player. He hasn’t played very many games. He got hurt last year. Then he only played the first half of this year or whatever he played, I can’t remember, against Tulsa. He’s still a young player that’s got a ways to go in the development stage, but he practices hard, he likes to compete, he loves to play the game and he wants to win. All of that should come through for him. But in my opinion, it’s not as easy for that to happen when you’re not playing on game day.”

On if he has had other quarterbacks he has had to try to mellow out like with Sanders

“He has a little bit of a defensive mentality. He’s like the child you have at home that gets really mad at you and says, ‘I don’t like you mom,’ or, ‘I don’t like you dad,’ and cries and then 30 minutes later comes down and tells you how much they love ya. That’s kinda his attitude. That’s what he does. It’s all good. He’s got a good heart. He means well. Guy just wants to win games.

“He won so many games in high school, that’s just what he’s accustomed to. He’s coming along. He does have a little bit of a defensive mentality. Once he gets back up and running at full speed and gets playing, then I think all that will work for him.”

On whether the players have expressed frustrations with the schedule change

“They really didn’t say much this week. I think they’re to the point now where nothing shocks them anymore. When it happened before the Tulsa game, I could kinda see some emotions in players like, ‘Really?’ I didn’t feel any of that this week because I just think that nothing surprises them at this point.”

On Damon West speaking to the team

“Our team really enjoyed his talk. He was with us for about 45 minutes. I watched throughout the room, and I thought our players were very attentive. He used a PowerPoint and video, so the room was kinda dark and they all had masks on, so all you could see was their eyes. They were all open and they were on him. It really looked like to me they really appreciated it. I know that there was a group of them that stayed after his visit, and they wanted to talk to him personally. I thought that was a good sign.”

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