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The Rundown: Gundy Talks Brock Purdy, Practice Intensity and Iowa State

Gundy discusses the Brock Purdy surprise from 2018.

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It feels like it’s been a long while since it’s been game week for the Cowboys, but mercifully, it has returned.

Oklahoma State takes on Iowa State this weekend, and OSU coach Mike Gundy is back to his Monday morning news conferences. Here is everything he touched on entering the week his Pokes host the Cyclones.

On the intensity and focus of the players through all these practices

“We’ve had really good practices, had a good practice last night. They seem really focused and excited about getting back to work.

“We stayed with the same routine that we’ve had, getting a break over the weekend and start back up on Tuesday.”

On the team’s health

“Seem to be in good shape, holding our breath.”

On Iowa State coach Matt Campbell

“I don’t have a relationship with any coaches. We all work the same times, so I don’t ever see Matt except for the day that I play him, unless I’m at Big 12 meetings.

“I think he’s good football coach, done a really nice job at Iowa State.”

On how concerned he is about his staff’s health with a string of positive COVID tests from prominent coaches

“I just think it’s a matter of time, I’ll be honest with ya. I’ve said this every week, I’m shocked I haven’t got it yet, but I’ve been fortunate enough to this point. I think our staff is the same way. We have some coaches that would be in a little more of the at-risk category in somebody’s opinion. I guess it depends on who you listen to. Those guys stay away a little more and sometimes aren’t involved in activities with groups of people.

“I think they make their own decision. I’m don’t get involved in any of that. I don’t know what credibility anybody has with the virus any more based on opinion. So all I do is do my job, and then guys that are concerned because of age or maybe a previous health condition, they’re free to stay away from things that they have concerns as an individual.”

On if Kasey Dunn would be the head coach if Gundy had to miss a game

“If I had to miss a game … well Kasey’s in the box, so I would have to put some thought into that. I’m not a big fan of the play caller being on the field. I never have been. I would have to think that through based on his location. If the box nor the field mattered, then yes, he would call the shots.”

On if Spencer Sanders is 100 percent

“I think he’s doing good, yeah. He’s been practicing well for the last couple weeks.”

On what he does with two capable quarterbacks

“You’re happy, you’re glad you got two guys. I’ve been without anybody at times. We’re glad we got two guys. We just continue on with what we’ve done. We’ve split the reps for a number of weeks now, so we just continue to move forward in that fashion and might even play both guys, just depends on where we’re at.”

On if he had one quarterback he would pick to start over the other

“If I did, I wouldn’t tell you.

“We have two healthy players. And now [Ethan] Bullock’s healthy, so we are in pretty good shape at that spot.”

On Iowa State’s defense

“They’re the same. They play back, and they’ve adjusted. They’re not playing as much four-techniques. They’re playing more five-techniques now to try to increase their ability to rush the quarterback on non-passing downs. They look a little bit more like what Baylor was running last year with some of the coverage stuff and five-techniques.

“Just an outsider looking in, their thought-process is to stay back, not give up big plays. You have to rush the football against them. If you can’t rush the football with the way their safeties and rover and all them are sitting way back there, you can be in for a long day.

“This year, they’re gonna play their base, which I’m guessing is their rush three, five under, three deep. Then there’s times they’ll blitz you. They’ll bring five or six people and play the same zone behind it and just leave the zone vacant and see if the quarterback can find it. Probably because of simplicity, easier to coach would be my guess.

“I’m just an offensive guy looking in. So, you’re either playing soft zone or coming after ya.”

On if he feels good with OSU’s offense

“I think we’re at our best when we play fast and we can rush the football and use play-action pass. But that’s the way that I’ve felt for 12 years. We’re getting a little better at that. I think musical chairs is an issue for us on the offensive line that we’ve eliminated, fortunately, over the last few weeks. It makes a big difference. Then we have skill players who can make plays. You gotta get the ball to those guys, let them score touchdowns.”

On why games with Iowa State have been so close over recent years

“I’m not sure. There’s a lot of parity. This has been going on for three or four years in college football and particularly the Big 12. Teams have found ways to benefit themselves against an opponent. I think Iowa State is a well-run organization. I think they’re smart coaches, and their players play with great effort. I would say if you watch our teams over the same amount of time, our guys play with great effort. I would say that most of the time, our guys are pretty well-coached and in the right spot. When you have teams like that, I think you have a lot of similarities at the end of the game.”

On how big the game against Iowa State was last season for OSU’s defense

“That was a mental lift for our defense. A lot of things that we do in life, not only in football but everyday life, when you develop confidence and have a little success, then it leads to more enthusiasm, better practices, better everyday preparation. That was a good game for our defense, and since then, we’ve played pretty well. Overall, our guys have played pretty good football.

“We beat a good team up there last year, with a quarterback that’s a guy that’s gonna play in the NFL. It’s tough to beat teams when their quarterback has NFL capability. It was a good lift for us last year, defensively when we played at Iowa State.”

On if having a capable defense will help after the long layoff

“I feel good about our defense. I think they’ve practiced well. I’ve continued to say this for a lot of years that focus and ability to absorb information and have a couple good practices a week is the most important piece of the puzzle for college football. I know it has been here for a long time. Our defense seems to be really focused. I’m sure they’re enjoying people telling them how good they’re doing. I have also cautioned them about that. But in practice, they’ve seemed to continue to run around and be enthusiastic and give really good effort. So, as long as we’re getting that in practice, from my perspective, that makes me feel good in going into the game on Saturday.”

On if defenses have caught up with offenses in the Big 12

“Defenses have seen what’s happened in this league for the last eight years, and they’ve rallied and done some things differently, particularly playing coverage guys considerably deeper than they did four or five years ago. The statistics have changed because of what you’re seeing in the other conferences across the country where people have migrated to those conferences and are running what the country would call Big 12-style offenses now in other conferences, and those numbers are getting run up. That’s why the defensive statistics have changed some in the last two years.”

On if OSU will depend on its defense against Iowa State

“They’re gonna have to play good. Iowa State, in their own world, has been very sound offensively. They don’t get out of their box much with what they believe in. They seem to have a system that, in their opinion, is simple enough for them to execute and be sound on game day. So defensively, we have to rally at times. We have to be really good down in the red zone and score zone. They’re gonna get down in there some, they’re good. They understand how to move the ball, and hopefully we can hold them to field goals instead of touchdowns, which could be a big factor in the game.”

On Hunter Woodard

“Well, he’s learning in the fire. It’s a tough game at the position he plays when you’re early in your career. Going into the season, he wasn’t getting reps with the ones particularly, getting some limited reps with the twos. Then all a sudden, he became a starter. So, he’s just trying to catch his breath. He’s made strides over the last two to three weeks just from getting quality reps with the ones. He continues to develop. His effort’s good, and his attitude’s good. The game is important to him, and his team is important. So, he’s improved in those areas. He’s got a ways to go, but should be a much different player by the end of the season.”

On what he knew about Brock Purdy when he played in Stillwater in 2018

“We didn’t know anything about him. We had him on our radar from a recruiting standpoint. We liked him, but we had Spencer [Sanders]. We felt like that he was gonna be a good player. Then, obviously, Iowa State got him.

“When he came in, we didn’t know anything about him at that time. That was really the first time anybody had seen him. But he’s off and running, has had a really good career at Iowa State.

On the difficulties of adjusting to a QB they knew nothing about

“There’s an issue with it, but it wasn’t as much that as it was some of the schemes that they went to with him that they felt were his strengths. We hadn’t seen any of that on tape, so defensively, we were trying to adjust on the run. It didn’t work out very well for us that day with us trying to figure all that out with a new quarterback and then some of the schemes we hadn’t repped in practice.”

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