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The Rundown: What Mike Gundy Said after Oklahoma State’s Loss in the Big 12 Championship

On Spencer Sanders, goal line struggles and more.

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[Devin Wilber/PFB]

ARLINGTON, Texas — The Cowboys were mere inches away from Mike Gundy’s second Big 12 title on Saturday.

Oklahoma State fell to Baylor 21-16 in the Big 12 Championship. Gundy met with reporters after the game. Here is what he had to say.

Opening Statement

“That was a heck of a college football game. Hate to come up on the short end of that, but I told the team in the locker room how proud I was of them. They’ve done everything we’ve asked them to do since January and competed, and they showed a lot about their true character today.

“We had, obviously, a lot of things go against us. They continued to fight back and put themselves in the position they had a chance to win, obviously. Came up just a few inches short, but I also made them aware that that doesn’t have anything to do with what they’ve accomplished this year. Essentially when we start in January, we ask the players to do certain things, and they’ve done everything we’ve asked them to do for 11 months. Everything we’ve asked them to do.

“So we came up a little short, but I told them I couldn’t be any more proud of them the way they competed. Sometimes that happens when you put yourself in a situation like we’re in. Two really good teams played today, two teams that were pretty evenly matched. And if it would have ended up that much more the other way, it wouldn’t have made them a failure either.

“The guys are hurting in there, but that’s kind of the way it is. We still got another game, and it’s a special group. They’re looking forward to being together another three weeks or so before we go play in a bowl. Give them a week off. They need a break. They’ve pushed a lot.

“I thought the atmosphere was unbelievable for the championship game. The Oklahoma State people, the way they showed up, they were awesome. Couldn’t ask for anything else. Big-time environment. We learned a lot. We learned a lot as an organization, and I told them, these things are difficult to swallow, but we’ll be back. We learn from these situations, and we make it better next time.”

On the players staying on the field after the game

“Every year teams build their own chemistry, and they kind of become who they are, and these guys have practiced hard, they’ve stayed focused, they’ve been disciplined, they have worked hard, and they enjoy each other.

“I say this all the time. Coaches don’t make up teams. Coaches only provide a blueprint, and the players make the teams. The success they’ve had is because of them, because of what they put into it, and they don’t want it to be over. They want another play, but, as I said, I’m just proud of them the way they compete.”

On Spencer Sanders’ performance and why OSU was able to move the ball at the end of the game after struggling to before

 “Well, first off, we didn’t protect him very well, and you guys know that when we had these discussions on Mondays or Saturdays after the game, my message is pretty similar. If we protect him well and rush the ball, then he usually plays pretty well, and I think that is consistent with any quarterback. I don’t think it’s just Spencer. I think it’s high school, college, NFL quarterbacks.

“We struggled rushing the ball, and it made us a little one-dimensional, and when you are one-dimensional, protection is not as easy. Then in the end we had guys make plays. He moved around and dumped the ball off. 27 made some plays and made some catches. We were able to manufacture some yards and get right down there. We just came up a little short.”

On struggling on the goal line

“They’re a good defense. You know that. You’ve watched them all year now. There’s no question that they’re a really good defense. So we have to look as coaches and see, okay, how is that scheme without watching the tape, and then you have to give them credit. I told our team that. In the end they made a play, and their coach made a call, and it is what it is, but I would say it could be a little bit of both.”

On defensive adjustments at halftime

“I think in the first half we gave them short fields, so we made it easy on them, and then once we kind of figured it out in the second quarter and then in the second half, we did a good job shutting them down. The short fields are what made it look a little bit worse than what it really was.”

On the offensive line struggles

“I mean, we didn’t rush the ball very good. We had concerns with the big guy in the middle. He caused us some trouble. Again, I’m going to say, they’re pretty good up front. We knew that going in. They’re a good defense overall. They can run. They’re fast, and they’ve got maturity out there. We had a tough time handling the nose guard.”

On Baylor appearing to call a timeout it didn’t have before OSU’s final offensive play

“I’m not sure what happened. I saw their players call timeout. They stopped the game, and then they came back and said, let’s play, and we didn’t have any time-outs, so we couldn’t have a discussion. You see what I’m saying? The game is running. I’m not sure what happened. I know they called timeout. I know we stopped the game, and then after that they said just keep playing, so I don’t have an explanation.”

On Jaylen Warren

“He was not capable of playing today physically.”

On how Spencer Sanders handled the emotions of throwing four interceptions

“I thought he was great when it comes to his composure and willingness to listen and identify what the issues were and then rally back. He has come a long way from where he was a couple of years ago. He had a couple errant throws, but then a couple times when he had the interceptions, he got hit. I thought he handled himself really well. Taking the information back on the field, identifying what the problem was, and just trying to figure out a way to make it better.”

On if there is disappointments about no longer having a chance at the playoff

“I don’t have any disappointment with our team. Again, I’m going to go back to the very first thing. In our culture we ask them to do certain things, and if they do what we ask them to do at the very best of their ability, then that’s all we can ask them to do.

“If you are asking, would we have liked to have won and be in the playoffs, sure. That’s what you want, right? That’s the next step. That’s all of our goal. I know this might sound funny. There is no disappointment for me with our guys. There’s just not. These guys have done too much, and you are in an operation of about 190 people, 140 players, and we have 50 or so coaches and staff and all the different things. Everybody in the organization has done what we’ve asked them to do, including the players. I don’t have any disappointment.

“I would have sure liked to have got that touchdown at the end for the players to enjoy that, but sometimes in life we don’t always get what we want.”

On how the Cowboys were able to stay in the game after going down 21-3

“I know you guys are tired of me saying this, but I have to go back to just the players and their belief in each other, playing confident, and looking each other in the eye and saying it’s going to be okay because what you said is the truth. It looked pretty bleak. I mean, they had every reason to think this is no fun, let’s just check it in and get out of here, but our culture doesn’t allow that to happen, and that’s the thing that makes me the happiest selfishly as a coach is just what you saw there. We had a lot of things go wrong. A lot of things that didn’t go our way, and so that would have been the easiest thing for them to do, but they’re not going to do that.

“As I said, when I talked to the team just now, guys that this is your last season, I can’t thank you enough for what you have done. We get a week off. We have three weeks of practice to go play in another one. And then the young guys and the other guys that are all coming back, they’ve set an example for you what it takes, and we’ll be back. You just got to work as hard. You’ve got to stay hungry. This team was hungry. This team has been hungry since January. Got to stay hungry.”

On if it’s hard to appreciate how good this season has been after Saturday’s heartbreak

“No. It is for them right now because they’re too young to understand. They’ll figure it out. They’re just kids. It’s not for me. I understand. Like I said, from what our guys accomplished in the situation they put themselves in, I see it real clear. Young people don’t see it as clear. You know, they’re emotional, and you know how kids are, young people. That’s the way it is.

“See, our job as adults and coaches and teachers and parents is to teach them, is to raise them and teach them the importance of what they’ve accomplished and move forward because they’ll have other things in life that will set them back just like this. That’s our job.”

On what Korie Black’s blocked kick and fumble recovery did for the team

“Well, it gave us the momentum at half and then when they attempted the other one, it could have very well rushed him based on what happened last time, and they missed it, and it was really important because that kept us in it. Then you are starting to extend the score, which makes it more difficult particularly if you’re not throwing the ball effectively.

“You have to give credit to their punter, too. There’s a couple of crucial situations. He had some bombs, and that’s all part of the special teams that we talked about.”

On what he saw during OSU’s fourth-down attempt

“Well, he was running away from us. It’s hard to tell because I’m on ground level. There’s a pile, and everybody is going that direction, so I really couldn’t tell what was going on because of the people that were standing in the way. They did have somebody show up really quick that made a good play. It’s not 27’s fault. They made a good play.”

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