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The Rundown: Gundy Talks Bedlam and Spencers ahead of Saturday Clash with Sooners

Everything Gundy touched on in his Bedlam week news conference.

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[Pool photo via Brett Rojo/USA TODAY Sports]

It’s Bedlam week.

Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy met with reporters via Zoom on Monday morning to discuss this weekend’s all-important Bedlam matchup. Here is everything he touched on.

Opening Statement

“Had a good week of practice. Took the weekend off as a group and then practiced again last night. Obviously, day off today. Monday is our day off. Then back at it Tuesday.”

On WVU coach Neal Brown saying when he came into the Big 12 he thought it was a one-phase game but that this year it’s three-phase football

“I think there’s some truth to what he said. When he came into this league, he had every reason to think that was the way it was. It had been that way for about 10 years. It’s made a little bit of a 360 here. Teams are winning with special teams and defense, and offensive production has not been what it has been based on the youth of the quarterbacks in this league.”

On if Kansas State was a good team to play before Oklahoma from a schematic view

“I think there’s some comparisons. You’re looking at completely different quarterback play with the two schools. In most cases, defensive strategy is going to start with the other team’s quarterback. But a lot of the same concepts with the guard/tackle pull and play-action pass, naked, things in that area.

“There’s quite a bit of twists and movement with Oklahoma (defensively), a lot of presnap stem that’s maybe a little different than what you see. They’re gonna play some quarters, play some Cover 1, which is somewhat similar to what Kansas State played, that part’s true.”

On the importance of Spencer Sanders limiting turnovers against Oklahoma

“I think the thing you’re seeing each week, and I’ve said this now for two months, is if you just watch, I watched more football over the weekend than I have probably in 15 years, I just chose to stay home Saturday and watch football, it’s coming down to turnovers, special teams play and discipline is what’s making the difference in a majority of these games. Teams that are turning the football over opposite of teams that are gaining turnovers are struggling to win football games.”

On Spencer Rattler

“He’s a much better player now than he was six weeks ago. He’s getting some games under his belt and getting adjusted a little bit and making plays. Obviously, he’s got a strong arm, and he’s got some savvy. He can move around and make some plays with his legs. He’s come quite a ways in four or five weeks.”

On how some of his least successful teams lately (2014, 2018) have had success against OU, and if he has found a common denominator as to what works against the Sooners

“I’ve not known that I’ve put the thought into that. Each year is different, each team is different. We prepare the same for Oklahoma as we do any other team. Try to get prepared and go out and play the best we can. Haven’t really done a lot of research into those things that you just mentioned to me.”

On if he can tell if this week is different for the players

“I would think there would be a difference in their opinion if you’re playing a lower-level school compared to a Big 12 school. The way it’s set up in our conference, you have to try each one of them. If you don’t win one to get to the other, then you’re in the same boat.

“I would think that they would have a different feel this week than other weeks. All I do is gauge their practices. This team has practiced very well throughout the year. This team practiced really well last night. It looks like, to me, that they’re focused and trying to get as prepared as possible for this game.”

On if OSU will need more from its offense to win in Norman

“Our defense has played really well this season. It’s obvious, our offense has not been as productive. We’re down three offensive linemen. We’re playing two freshmen guards. When you’re playing freshmen guards, you have two things that are going on: it’s no secret they’re not as strong as they need to be to play at this level, and they’re not as experienced. Offensively, we’re trying to be compatible with our defense and our special teams. We need to play a well-rounded football game.

“Defensively, this is a real challenge for us this week with the skillset Oklahoma has on the perimeter and the most athletic quarterback that we’ve played up to this point. Offensively, we have to find ways to maneuver and get more points than we’ve been able to get over the last few weeks.”

On if Tylan Wallace will be able to play Saturday

“I think that we’re getting healthy in different areas. We’ve got a ways to go. It’s really hard for me to say six days out with where we’ll be, but hopefully we’ll have the guys that we need to be up and running and play at a high level Saturday.”

On where Chuba Hubbard and LD Brown are health-wise

“We’re hoping to get those guys out there in the latter part of the week. I think everybody knows now, it’s pretty much gotten out there, there are no secrets, we limped our way through Kansas State. I’ll be real honest with you. I had real concerns about what directions we were gonna go in that game. Fortunately, we got really good play in special teams and defense. Offensively, we just haven’t had very many guys who are practicing. I’m hoping that we’ll have a majority of these guys back. When they have the type of injuries that they have, it’s hard to tell whether they’ll be there today or whether they’ll be there Friday. Hopefully we’ll get some of these guys healthy and give us a chance to play.”

On if difficulties in series carry over year by year

“I don’t really think so. Young people nowadays, they have short memories. They live on their phones. They get information instantly. They move on from one thing to the next. The only thing I can ever gauge our football team on is our preparation each week. There’s some weeks I have concerns based on a lack of focus, and then we try to find a way to win on Saturday. There’s some weeks where we’re really, really focused, and I feel like we’re gonna play really sound in all three phases. It just varies week to week with young people. I wish I had an answer for it. I think if you polled the coaches, I think it’s 65 Power Five conference coaches across the country, they would, in most cases, give you the same answer. Why it’s that way, we’re not sure.

“Our team has been focused this year, they’ve practiced really well. They compete. It’s important to them to be successful for each other, and for that reason, I feel good about our football team.”

On what kind of test Oklahoma’s defensive front presents to OSU’s young offensive line

“It’s a challenge for us. This will be their biggest test. The guys up front for them, now that they’ve got some of those guys back, they’re competitive. They can rush the quarterback, and they’ve been good against the run. So, offensively we have to have a really good strategy. We have to be patient in the way that we want to attack and reduce turnovers and be as consistent as possible up front with our blocking schemes.”

On the importance of Spencer Sanders controlling his emotions in Saturday’s game

“I feel really good about where Spencer is with his composure. He’s turned a 360 from where he was at this time last year. The positive about Spencer is he’s ultracompetitive. You guys watch him play. He’s not scared. He’ll compete. He fights right to the end. We needed him to adjust his composure some when things didn’t go well. Quarterbacks have to have short-term memories. It is what it is. Most of the times things go well. Sometimes things don’t go well. You gotta get over it really quick, and you’ve gotta be composed. He’s much better this year than he was last year at this time.”

On Oklahoma’s run game

“They’re gonna run their guard/tackle pull play, and they’re gonna read it. That’s what they wanna do. It’s a difficult play to stop. Defensively, you have to have a really good plan. Essentially in football, you’re a half-man short in that play. We have to continue to stop that play and work at it and be able to tackle well in space. You get a guy, one guy, that should be there in a majority of the plays, and you hope that those guys can tackle and get the running back and/or the quarterback if he keeps it, get him down.”

On if Rhamondre Stevenson is different compared to other running backs OSU has seen this season

“Oh, I don’t know as far as evaluating specifics talent-wise. They’re definitely better with him in there, I’ll tell you that. We’ve faced different kinds of backs, but ultimately, you’re gonna have a guy that’s gonna show up in those areas, and you’ve gotta be able to get those guys on the ground and limit big plays.”

On the importance of managing Spencer Sanders’ emotions in Saturday’s game

“It’s not any different than any other game. If Spencer gets to a point where he’s too involved emotionally or loses composure, then you put the other guys in and let him play a little while until he calms down. I don’t see that with him at this point. He’s been really consistent this year and developed and doing much better. As I mentioned earlier, you hope that you have a lot of good plays, but you’re gonna have some tough plays when you’re competing against good football teams. He’s done a really good job this year of staying composed. I wouldn’t expect anything else from him.”

On Rodarius Williams

“He’s been consistent. He’s covered really well. In our defense, you have to be able to play man coverage a majority of the time. He’s adjusted with Coach [Jim] Knowles’ scheme. Each year he’s gotten better and better. He practices hard. Doesn’t say a lot, just competes. And he’s improved. He’s gotten better, and we feel really good about his ability to cover.

“They’re gonna be the most talented team as a group on the perimeter that we face this year. I haven’t looked in depth at the teams we play coming up in the next month, but they’re very talented. Obviously, they’re all five-star guys or whatever you call those guys, so they’re very talented. They have speed and can make plays, so this will be a big week for our guys to be able to really work hard and cover.”

On if this is a chance for Rodarius Williams to “make a statement for his future”

“I don’t know. I don’t pay much attention to that. Same thing we tell the players, any time a player has a question about the NFL, the answer is the same. All the NFL does is turn the tape on and watch and see. Doesn’t make a difference to them who it is. They just see the results they get on tape. If you make plays, you get a chance to play in the NFL. If you don’t, you go get a real job. I think that’s pretty consistent each week.”

On how Bedlam has changed in the near four decades he’s been involved in it

“Well, I don’t know that I’ve put a pencil to it over the last four decades, but I think that these games have been very competitive. There’s been times where we’ve played our best football, our best game of the year, and lost the game based on certain things happening, the way the ball bounces different ways.

“Our players continue to practice well. They’re buying into the system and what we’re trying to accomplish. Those are really the only things that I can gauge in us getting ready to play. All the other history and things that people talk about is really irrelevant in this game in my opinion. It’s a game that’s coming up between two teams that never played each other. I just haven’t put much thought into it based on I don’t really wanna waste a lot of time thinking about that compared to getting ready to play in a game.”

On Trace Ford

“Trace has played extremely hard, has given great effort. He’s played reckless. He’s tackled well and been athletic. That’s his strength. As he continues to get a little better each year and each game, those are the characteristics that make him a good football player. He plays with great effort throughout the game. He never slows down. He’s one of those guys who we’d like to get to the quarterback a couple times, make a couple tackles for loss and really be accountable for his individual effort in our schemes and try to slow down their offense.”

On Tulsa defensive standout Zaven Collins

“He’s played well for them for a while. He started showing up on the radar, it’s been what two years now where he’s been pretty well known. He makes a lot of plays. He can run. He’s physical. I watched a little bit of their game, maybe a quarter and a half of their game, the other night, and he showed up and made two or three really big plays in crucial times in that game. I would think that he’s a guy that’s gonna get a chance to play in the NFL. He’s a good football player. It seems like the defense at Tulsa kinda rallies around his play and his attitude. I hear great things about him on and off the field, which is awesome. His character, they say, is really good. In most cases, when you have a talented player that has great character, it generally ends up coming to the top like he is and his play in these games.”

On Collins being from Hominy

“We’ve talked for four or five or six years here about how we feel here as a staff about Oklahoma high school football. We feel like it’s considerably better than it ever has been. He’s a perfect example of that. We can go back and look, and I don’t know the history, but I’m going to guess that he was very, very lightly recruited and probably didn’t have enough stars, for lack of a better term, to make people think that he was something different than what he was.

“There’s guys out there. There’s players in the state of Oklahoma and some of them come from smaller towns who are underdeveloped. That all comes down to projection in recruiting. I’m very happy for him and his success. I’m gonna guess that he’s gonna go on and play this game for four, five, six more years and make everybody in the state of Oklahoma proud.”

On if his changes over the years apply to Bedlam and the fanbase’s expectations of Bedlam

“I’m not really worried about outside sources. We have 200 people in this organization. We have 130 players. We have about 70 personnel, administration, everybody. We need to compete and be able to satisfy each other in this organization and the commitment we make. We have a core set of values that are in our program that has not changed and won’t ever change here. I’ve made adjustments over the years based on learning more about people, just being a part of the job, gaining more patience over the years. But we have a core set of values that’s running on 16 years here that won’t ever change, and that’s what keeps us where we are. That’s why we can compete against anybody in the country on any given weekend. It’s never been that way at Oklahoma State football — ever. That’s not changing here.

“But I’ll say this, the people in this organization understand commitment, they understand work ethic, they understand accountability, they understand loyalty and they understand structure. Those are things that we believe in here, and we talk about them every day, every week and throughout the season. That’s where we as an organization, not necessarily me, have grown over the last 16 years.

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