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The Rundown: What Mike Gundy Said at His Weekly Media Luncheon

On Iowa State, Kansas and his new contract.



[Devin Wilber/PFB]

STILLWATER — It’s homecoming week at Oklahoma State, but the Cowboys enter it with a bad taste in their mouths.

The Pokes are back from Iowa, where they fell 24-21 to Iowa State on Saturday. On Monday, OSU coach Mike Gundy met with reporters to but a bow on the game in Ames, preview Kansas and talk about his new contract.

Opening Statement

“Most of what I said after the game was accurate, just a follow up to that game. Really good football game, two good teams playing. They made a play at the end, and we didn’t. We had a few more missed assignments in both sides together than we had in previous games. Tanner (Brown), if he had a chance to have that field goal over again, he would have made it. We missed a field goal, and they converted theirs. And we had some missed assignments. Other than that, played a good football team. Wish we would have found a way to score there at the end, but moving forward. We practiced last night, the day off today and trying to get ready to play Kansas.”

On how long it takes him to gather his thoughts for locker room speech after loss

“Doesn’t take long. Fortunately, I’ve done this a long time. I’m getting ready to go into my 18th year, so there are certain things you improve at, I should say. The easiest communication for me with our team and our coaches is to tell them the truth, and that solves everything. That’s what I do every Saturday, win or lose, Sunday, and tell everybody the truth. This is the way I feel, and move forward from that point.”

On if he takes into account the emotions of the players

“Well I know it’s going to be that way because I understand our culture and they understand our culture. And I told them after the game that if it wasn’t that way, then I would be concerned based on they put a lot in every week. Fifty percent of teams playing college football every Saturday night aren’t happy because they lost. So, I appreciate the way they feel. And I don’t try to take that away from them. Only ask them when we come back on Sunday to put it aside and move forward. That’s what we do in life in all the different things that happened to us that we aren’t in favor of. So sure, they hurt. They just played a hard-fought game and we came up a few inches short of a conversion and maybe a chance to tie and keep playing, and it didn’t happen that way. So I’m pleased that they feel that way.”

On if the missed assignments are correctable

“Yeah, you always have missed assignments. There’s a lot of mistakes in a football game. We just had more in this one than we had in the previous six. So, could that have tipped it the other way? Maybe. But I have to address it. And I’m not just saying players because when we have missed assignments, the guys coaching are responsible for them. So Saturday is a test on how well they were teaching during the week. So, if your guys don’t play well and have a bunch of missed assignments, you failed them. It’s never on the players. It’s on the coaches. So it’s both. It’s not just them.”

On how QB Spencer Sanders played, and Sanders’ postgame reaction to the loss

“He played good. He was patient. His composure was good. We protected him better, which gave him a chance to play better. I mean, he had a few misreads, which is normal. That was the first I heard (that Sanders said he needed to do more). I was unaware that he said that, but Spencer is a team guy. He’s unselfish. I’ve said that a million times. You guys have dealt with him for four years. He’s a fantastic young man, he’s unselfish and he’s humble. So, I would expect him to say that, but that was one of the better games he played this year.”

On offensive struggles in the third quarter

“I’m going to start to pass a bucket around for third-quarter suggestions. And I say that kind of jokingly but not really, from the standpoint we’ve been so good in the third quarter. I mean, Dave (Hunziker) is an analytics guy. I don’t know how many years they’ve had analytics, but in years past, in the third quarter we’ve been pretty good. And that’s what’s keeping me up at night. Losing this game didn’t keep me up, I mean I was up all night, but I was up because of the third quarter. We’ve lost games in the past where we turn the ball over four times, so we didn’t give ourselves a chance. Well, that didn’t happen in this game. They played well enough to beat us. So, third quarter offensively is what I’m looking for.”

On balancing Big 12 title game picture and day-to-day operations

“Honestly, I mean I would love to help with the story, but [the players] don’t bring that up. Maybe because I don’t. We need to work on Kansas. This is a team that has gotten considerably better, and so there shouldn’t be anybody thinking about that because we need to play well against Kansas first.”

On how much of the third quarter struggles is opponents making adjustments at halftime

“Well, at halftime, we all get to make adjustments, but traditionally here we’ve been really good in the third quarter. Our concepts are the same, I went over that a few weeks ago. We’re not changing anything. We just haven’t been able to get that production, so we have to find a way to get that. And that’s not an easy solution or we would have already said, ‘This is it. Let’s fix it.’ So, we just looked at a lot of things and try to backtrack on what we can put into place to maybe make it better in Saturday night’s game.”

On if OSU will try to use more running backs against Kansas

“Well, there’s not very many plays in these games. Iowa State plays extremely slow. Kansas plays extremely slow, or they have. I’m guessing that’s what they want to do. So, there’s not as many plays in the game, so it’s not as much of a concern.”

On what surprised him most about the Kansas-Oklahoma game

“They were a physical team. Their quarterback is athletic, and they have a freshman running back that we offered. He’s a good player. And defensively, they made plays. First thing I did was flip on the Kansas-Duke game from about four weeks ago and start working it back, and I thought I was going to see a blowout. There’s 2:56  seconds to go in the third quarter, and Kansas was ahead. And then I watched some of the other things that happened, and watched [Saturday’s] game, they’re a well-coached team. [Lance Leipold] does a good job with technique and fundamentals,  and every week they’re getting better, in my opinion. That’s what I saw, and I saw the best performance against Oklahoma.”

On if there is any risk in Oklahoma State overlooking Kansas

“We’re not far enough along to overlook anybody. I expect this to be a fourth-quarter game. When you have an offensive capability to score 45 or 50 points, then there are times that you can say, ‘Well, maybe we’ll overlook somebody.’ But we’re not in a position right now, based on a variety of things to overlook anybody because we don’t score as many points as we have the years past for whatever reason, so that shouldn’t be an issue.”

On if the leash for Tanner Brown is shorter after going 0-for-2 against Iowa State

“Well, Tanner wanted to make it, we know that. His plant was good, his hips were good, his alignment was good, he just didn’t get through it. He just didn’t get through it. And he gets it. He’s fine, but special teams and penalty yards are more so a factor this year in this league than they have been that I’ve been here.”

On Brennan Presley’s kickoff returns

“Coach [John Wozniak] has done a nice job on [kickoff return]. We got one, and we’ve had some good ones. We’re getting close. Special teams is basically nine guys that have to somehow get between their man and the ball. Zone defense in basketball is basically what it is, and then you have an extra guy to try to pick somebody up. Most of the time it’s one or two guys that don’t get it done, but that’s pretty consistent across college football. We’ve been close a couple times, so hopefully we’ll keep playing well in a [kickoff return] unit.”

On Kody Walterscheid

“He’s a culture guy. Been here forever and developed his body and put on 60 pounds. Works hard, you don’t hear a lot about him. He’s another unselfish, humble guy who just likes to play football, that shows up. A good football player.”

On Oklahoma State’s knack for recruiting brothers

“The guys like it here. This is a good place to play college football. You have good culture, it’s a good place to live, good people. They are treated right. We graduate every player on our team. They get professional career opportunities, it’s a good place to be. If it wasn’t for Devin (Harper), little (Thomas) Harper wouldn’t have come. And if it wasn’t for the first (Cole) Walterscheid, the second wouldn’t have come. So it’s a pretty good place to be.”

On Thomas Harper

“He’s into it now. Year, gosh, maybe four, three for sure. So he understands, has got reps. He gets it, doesn’t get rattled by the situation, and experience, experience is a big part of what we do.”

On if the football team will get out to walk around for homecoming

“Not anymore. There’s 50,000 people, it just doesn’t make sense to do it anymore. I think they’re going to try to have some type of an outdoor pep rally, based on the issues with the virus. I’m not for sure what that is yet, but that’s what I’ve heard.”

On if it surprising Collin Oliver has not hit the freshman wall yet

“He’s further along now, and usually it happens about November, but I would agree with you, I think he’s fine. He’s doing fine, and the reason why is because we have so many defensive lineman. He’s not having to play 50 plays a game. He’s (at) 28 to 32 a game. If he played 50, he’d have 15 plays more over a seven-game stretch, you’re almost at 100 plays. That’s what’s helping him. He’s not in as much as when some of these other freshmen — Trace Ford played a bunch last year. So that’s when they usually hit that wall.”

On what Collin Oliver does well to get to the quarterback

“Well, he’s freakishly athletic. He’s got a very strong, flexible lower body. And he can bend, he can turn a corner and he can drop his knees, his hips and bend and get under blocks. And then he’s powerful enough to come back the other way. He just has a special athleticism that allows him to be a good football player and a good pass rusher. I mean I can’t imagine, he ought to be 20 pounds bigger and stronger next year at this time.”

On what he has seen from Collin Oliver over the first seven games

“He’s further along than I would have thought. I said there’ll be a role. I was thinking eight to 10 plays a game because he’d shown that pass-rush ability in practice, but I would not have thought that he could get to where he is now at his position as a true freshman.”

On what has helped Spencer Sanders string together a few solid games aside from better pass protection

“Well, obviously we’re rushing the ball. I go back to the biggest issue is protection. When you don’t protect well early, most quarterbacks, their biological clock just starts running really fast. They start moving their feet. Their eyes travel. They don’t stay locked into what they’re supposed to. I’m saying that’s most quarterbacks, not just Spencer, that’s all of us that have played the position or play the position. That’s what happens. So, if we protect well, I’m not saying we have to be the offensive steel curtain, but if we just protect well and let him get comfortable, he really plays better.”

On Spencer Sanders’ touchdown pass to Tay Martin

“That was a big time throw. It was a big time throw and a big time catch. We need to be able to protect a little better and get the ball thrown down the field some because you guys that have watched us forever, that’s what we’re not getting accomplished when you look at the numbers. ‘OK, well, why is your average points whatever our average points is?’ Now, we’re not as explosive as we have been in the past because we used to play with four NFL wide receivers at once. That was a whole different ballgame, but we’re bringing some young guys along, and as we mature, that’s where we’ve lacked is to be able to get some of those plays.”

On if he feels closer with the young wide receivers

“It’s just different. We put (Jaden) Bray in the other day and ran a simple throw, and it’s just being young. He probably got caught up in the environment, turned around, the ball was here and next year he is going to make that catch. [Blaine Green] lined up on the wrong side a time or two. It’s just being young. It’s just not as easy. You try to acclimate them and give them what you think they can handle, but it’s just different. It makes it a little more challenging for the quarterback, put it that way.”

On what he saw in Kansas running back Devin Neal in the recruiting process

“We offered him early in his career. We liked him, and he’s a fantastic baseball player. I think he was draftable. My buddy, who’s an agent, called me about him a couple of years ago, felt like he was really draftable in baseball. We tried to get him, and he committed early to Kansas, just from right down right there (being from Lawrence).

“He’s fast. He’s physical, strong physically. I don’t know what his size is right now, but we felt like he would be a 200-pounder after he’s in school for a year or so. I don’t have any idea how big he is now, but we liked his physique and what we thought could be a really good college running back.”

On if he knew much about Lance Leipold when Kansas hired him

“I’d seen buffalo play some but didn’t pay attention much, but I thought, just from a distance, I knew that they had success. I thought they were pretty fundamentally sound, but again, it’s so far up there that I never crossed paths with him. From what I’ve seen, and I’ve seen quite a bit, they’re fundamentally sound. In my opinion, they’re well coached, from what I see. I like and don’t like the direction they’re going. I appreciate quality coaching and fundamentals and technique and stuff but not when I have to play against them.”

On if his new contract further strengthens his ties to OSU

“It’s a contract that just continues on, essentially, for as long as, I mean I guess if they want to stop it, they could. But it’s that type of contract. What it does is it puts me in a position that allows me to, you know, I mean, I’m not 35 anymore. It allows me to be in homes of recruits and say, ‘I’m going to be here during your time,’ which is what young people want, maybe more so now than ever. It gets brought up a lot in recruiting more so than it used to is, ‘Are you going to be the coach?’ Most young players being recruited now don’t want to be in a position where there could be a potential coaching change. They just don’t want that because they know their position coach is gonna change, their strength coach is going to change. That allows me to say, ‘Listen, I’m going to be here until you graduate.’ That was what the goal was, and so that’s where Dr (Kayse) Shrum and Chad (Weiberg) and myself came to a conclusion.”

On what the contract does for him personally

“I’m very fortunate that all three children of mine were able to go to the same school system, very rare in Power Five conference football for a head coach or an assistant coach. So, I’ve always been very grateful for that. And we can call it like we see it, I mean I’ve been here a while. We’ve had tremendous success, so it’s a good opportunity for both sides. With the direction of college football now, I think there’ll be realignment again in 24, 25, in my opinion. I don’t know what it is. Don’t ask me why or what. My gut feeling is that’s going to happen again. So, when we have consistency and we can solidify what happens here at the one sport that financially drives this athletic department, it’s good for Oklahoma State University. Period.”

On if it was different negotiating a contract with Shrum and Weiberg

“We had great conversations. We were able to sit down and have adult conversations. Contracts are a very uneasy situation for me because I don’t have an agent, so I do my own contracts. It’s hard to sit down and talk about yourself to people, and it’s uncomfortable. But with Dr. Shrum and Chad, we can sit down and have adult conversations. In my opinion with a contract when you get up and leave the table, if you feel like you got cheated and they feel like they got cheated, then you have a fair contract. That’s just the way it is. If it’s one side or the other, then it’s not fair. With the years of service that I’ve put in here and with what the university has provided for me, we should be able to sit down as adults and have a fair conversation and come up with what would be a reasonable contract for both sides.”

On why he doesn’t have an agent

“I like to tell the truth, and if I got into that I’d be bringing other people into it, and I don’t want to do that. At this point it doesn’t matter. Dr. Shrum and Chad and myself only want to move forward. I will say this, she and Chad have very strongly pressed the issue of how important football is to this university, 100%. More than it ever has been before. That’s why I was all in for coming to an agreement that we thought was fair for both sides.”

On if Shrum and Weiberg initiated the contract talks

“Yeah, she’s pretty aggressive. She’s a home run for this university. She doesn’t sit around and let a lot of grass grow under her feet. She’s very aggressive. She’s not scared to make a decision. If she believes something, she’s going to do it. The reason she and I get along so well, we texted today back and forth a little bit, was because we see things the same way. If I feel strongly about something, I’m going to tell you. If she feels strongly about something, she’s going to tell you. I appreciate that, and that’s why we’re able to move fast and get things done in the right way. She’s put Chad in charge, to a certain extent. You should ask Chad, I don’t want to speak for him, but she’s said, ‘This is your role, and I want you to get it done. You got my support.’”

On if he could see changing the number of scripted plays coming out of halftime

“Eight. I don’t know. Thought about cutting it to four and thought about going to 12. When I tell you guys that I don’t sleep at night that means I wake up at 2:08, 3:50 something, four something and then at 5:20 I just give up and get up. … The only one that likes it is my dog. She gets to curl up next to me, and I pet on her a little bit in the middle of the night. I don’t want to overplay it and say it’s a big, big deal, but it bothers me because I think it’s important for coaches to go in at halftime and use their resources and their knowledge and their experience and come up with a plan in six to eight minutes and then spend four minutes getting it to the players and then go back out and make it work. I think that’s our responsibility as coaches. We have to get the players to produce. That’s the way I see it. It’s on my mind, that’s for sure.”

On if it’s always been eight plays

“Pretty much — eight to 10.”

On how much the struggles weigh on offensive coordinator Kasey Dunn

“I’m sure he’s the same way. You can ask him. Kasey’s got a lot of pride in what he does, and the numbers that are out there right now aren’t fair to him. He’s been in a tough boat. And if he wasn’t, I’d tell you. I’d say, ‘Hey, he’s not doing a good job.’ But, last year we had every offensive lineman issue in the world, and this year we’ve had pretty much every wide receiver issue that we could have. Then we’re trying to recover. He’s had some issues that he’s dealing with, but his composure and his poise has been really good. I would have been much worse as an offensive coordinator or play-caller in his situation. He’s done a good job. He’s fine. Staff’s fine. We just need to get up and going here a little bit and try get a little better every week.”

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