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

On Texas Tech and more.



[Devin Wilber/PFB]

STILLWATER — A win Saturday in Lubbock would secure Mike Gundy’s seventh double-digit win season as the Cowboys coach.

Gundy met with reporters Monday in Boone Pickens Stadium for his weekly media luncheon. Here is what he said.

Opening statement

“So onto another week. We played a good game against TCU and the most complete game we’ve had in all three phases. Kind of put it together all three phases, and played good. The crowd was fantastic and so things started to work to our advantage and the snowball kind of started going downhill on TCU; everything started working, crowd got into it and so on and so forth. So, you know, onto (Texas) Tech now, and onto a normal routine. Same old, same old, just need to have a good week of practice and make sure we’re focused and understand what got us to this point and what we need to do to move forward, and it’s really that simple of a process. In fact, don’t get out of our box and kind of understand who we are and not unnecessarily listen to people telling them how good they are, and have a good week practice, work hard and get ready to go out and play Saturday night.”

On if the key to keeping momentum is “staying in the box”

“Yeah, I mean, we just, we have a pretty good idea of who we are now in all three phases. So, don’t try to do something that we’re not capable of, but also make sure that we’re stressing the important areas for us to continue to get better each game. I mean, a sign of a good football team, and a sign of a well-coached football team if a team that gets better each week, and I feel like we’ve improved each week. I’m happy with that part of our program this year, and so we just need to continue in that path.”

On if facing teams coming off their best game helps Oklahoma State prepare better

“Oh, it could be. With the players, there’s so much going on and there’s so many things, so much information out there with phones and technology that maybe they see them play well and, ‘Okay, I need to practice on … .’ They’re still young people. They’re 19, 20, 21, so they need to be motivated, mentally charged, and I would think that that could help. We tell them that every week, and I’ve said this from Week 1 on that we’re not a good enough football team to not practice well and beat somebody on Saturday, period. So, I’ve told them that. When Brandon Weeden was here, and that team, I didn’t tell them that because we were a good enough team we could not play well and still win. So, I’ve told them the truth, but if they see teams play well on tape, maybe it does benefit them.”

On his perspective playing another team that is hot

“[Texas Tech] played another quarterback and played well, they were physical against Iowa State, scored points. So, we just have to, like I said when I started, do what we do, stay in our box and practice well, focus and compete.”

On how getting younger guys more reps during the COVID season has helped Oklahoma State

“We learned a lot of things from COVID, a lot of things that we use internally in our organization and then also things in practices. So, when we have players that are injured and other players step in and play, they’ve had considerable more amount of reps than they’ve ever had in the past. So, you know, we get guys banged up in the game and find out tomorrow, practice-wise, where they’re at. Some of them can go some of them can’t. The ones that can’t go, the ones that have stepped in and had to play, so far have played pretty well. I’m convinced it’s because of all the work they got, starting a year ago during the COVID issues, and then obviously we kept it going in the spring and in August. I think it’s made us a better football team.” 

On how offensive linemen Tyrese Williams and Joe Michalski looked on tape

“Those guys played good. They were physical. They made mistakes. I mentioned to you after the game that Tyrese threw a couple no-hitters, but there’s other guys that do that. But, we’ve asked them to be physical and play hard, and give the backs a chance to get a yard past the line of scrimmage before they have to make a cut, and that’s what they did. They were finishing blocks. So, if they will compete and give us that side of it, then we’ll be fine.”

On if he anticipates getting Josh Sills and Danny Godlevske back

“I don’t know. We’ll find out tomorrow.”

On how integral the younger players have been to the offense finding its stride

“Well, they’re an important part. We have gone a number of weeks where our offensive line was settled and then we lost that last week, particularly in the second half. We had, 40% of our offensive line was new guys again. So, if we can’t get the guys that are injured back in, then we’re back in that same boat where we’re moving guys around a little bit and we need them to play well. We need them to perform at a high level so we can continue to score points.”

On if that is the same concept with the wide receivers

“Well, they’re healthy. I mean, we’ve been fortunate there. Those guys have been out there now for a number of weeks, so you’re seeing some improvement in some chemistry with them and Spencer (Sanders) by having them out there for a month now in practice has helped us improve as an offense.”

On Tre Sterling’s recovery from injury

“Well, he had an injury to his hand, and he had it surgically repaired. The details of it, I’m not sure and how all that works. But in most cases that is a season-ending injury and for whatever reason his repaired. He’s always involved with hand specialists and guys that are best at what they do. And they say he’s fine. He can play now.”

On having Jason Taylor II and Tre Sterling at safety

“Well, we’ve been fortunate that [Taylor has] been able to step in and make some plays, and he grows and learns as he goes. He’s made mistakes and corrected them. It goes back to what we’re talking about with the offensive line and, unfortunately, what we went through at wide receiver early in the year. We were fortunate to make it through that and that he’s now has some experience, has played and hopefully Tre (Sterling) can get in and get some reps now. And those guys can work together to help keep them fresh.”

On the personality of the Blaine and Bryson Green

“Like the other set of twins that we’ve had, in my opinion, because they’ve grown up with each other and they’ve been active so much in athletics, and they’ve had each other, they kind of, they live in that world. But they have personalities and are fun and all that, but what I’ve noticed with the ones that we’ve had, they kind of, you know, it’s almost like on my ranch. I’ve got a retired equestrian horse, and I have a miniature horse. That miniature is just kind of attached to wherever that equestrian horse goes, that miniature horse goes. You very seldom see them apart from each other. Well, they’re the same way. They kind of start looking around for each other, to see where they’re at and they kind of start to get back together. They ride on a plane next to each other. They room together. At practice, if they’re not going, they’re standing next to each other and talking. So, it’s been fun for us to have twins like that on our team. And I think as they start to get caught up, they’re young, they’re playing a lot for freshmen, that’s overwhelming for them, but they’re starting to catch their breath, and when that happens, you start to see them show a little more personality. Right now, they’re just trying to survive.”

On where Spencer Sanders’ maturity shows up most in games

“Oh, I mean, I think he’s made good decisions at times, he throws the ball away and tucks it and runs. Quarterbacks have to learn that we don’t have to have a positive play every time we call a play, sometimes it’s okay to end up in second-and-10, or throw it away. Sometimes it’s okay to take a sack. So, he’s getting a better feel for that, in my opinion, as this year has progressed, but we’re also protecting better. We’ve protected him better in the last four weeks we have in the first four weeks. That’s why he’s playing better.”

On if Spencer Sanders is a better passer now compared to when he got to Oklahoma State

“I mean, he’s always been. He’s got a strong arm and he’s pretty accurate. I would think he has to be better just based on his mental progression of the game. I mean, this game is not easy at this level. I mean, you saw freshman with TCU in our game, right? Things start to move fast and so there’s a progression they go through at a young age and I think he’s obviously improved.”

On Cowboy Back Logan Carter

“He’s gotten a little better each week. That recovery with the back issue, which generally starts to affect nerves and your nerves respond and come back over a period of time. It’s not something that happens overnight. And each week he’s starting to get a little bit more flexibility and movement. He’s still 80% maybe at the most from where he was, but he gets a little bit more each week. That was the first game that he’s played where he was productive on the field. He’d been in some games for us, but really wasn’t productive. He was just kind of out there. We were trying to find out where he was. He was productive in this game.”

On Texas Tech quarterback Donovan Smith

“He’s a big kid, throws it around. He can run, he’s athletic. He might be 225 pounds. All I know is he’s a pretty big dude. But, you know, he had I think now he’s got [59] attempts on the year, and [32] and them were the other day. He’s just getting started, but obviously they like him. They put him in there and he played well.”

On Logan Carter’s recovery being unusual

“Well, anytime you’re dealing with a back injury, timetables are somewhat unrealistic. There’s just no telling. In a back injury, you’re always concerned that that could be it. There’s just so many moving parts tied into your back and your core, that the back injury can at times be very painful and make you not want to play the game anymore. So yes, I had concerns about [Carter not playing again].”

On the impact a conference championship brings to a program

“If you’re a winning organization it is going to help you in recruiting, period. Now, I will say this, it’s interesting with recruiting now, there’s factors that are involved that play more and weigh heavier with young people’s decisions over the last two to three years than maybe just that aspect of it. But, I think if you’re winning you certainly have an advantage in recruiting.”

On what concerns he still has about this Oklahoma State team

“This was really the first game that we played at a high level run-blocking where we finished blocks. So, most of my years here we were playing at a pretty high level up front run-blocking by getting four or five. We just kind of got off going there. We’ve protected [Spencer Sanders] pretty good in the last three or four games. I had been concerned about that. You know, defensively, I’m concerned, because we’ve played at a high level for what will be 10 games now, it’s hard to continue to play at a high level. So, I worry that at some point we could potentially have a let down. I mean, that’s just being a coach. Other than that, I’m okay with these guys. It’s a good culture. They work hard, they practice hard. I don’t need to repeat all that, I’ve said it in here for a month and a half. Other than that I really don’t have any concerns.”

On if it is unique not having many concerns at this point in the season

“It is. I mean we’re at a time and an age, you know, just look at what’s going on, you know, there’s been a kind of a trend here recently with athletic directors making changes in programs. You know, in somebody’s opinion, maybe too early, whatever. For us and me personally, I’m comfortable with where we’re at because I see more strength in our organization and culture now then in my 17 years as a head coach. And we have a team right now that when they go out and play on Saturday, it doesn’t make a difference who we play, that we know, and the people involved in this organization, and our fans who support this program know that if we play well we can win. I don’t care who it is. So for me, that’s a plus. And we have enough young players in our program that are coming back and super seniors that will be coming back next year that it is going to continue that for quite a while. So, it’s a good feeling from a coach, personally, because now what I need to do is not screw it up. I need to take care of the people that are here, the coaches, all the staff that work in different areas in the building over there that are running the thing, now I just need to keep it moving. We’re in a pretty good place right now. So, yes, it is a pretty good feeling.”

On who should be next in OSU’s Ring of Honor

“Oh, I don’t have any idea. There’s a lot of players, you guys know that. We could sit here and come off with eight or 10 names that probably deserve to be up there. We got to find out what the formula is to start with. I’m not sure if we know that yet. But at some point, we have a number of guys that could be up there. Leslie O’Neal’s one of them, thinking about him. There’s a number of guys. I would say within the next five or six years, you’ll probably have that thing covered maybe [the entire west end zone] because there’s six or eight guys that deserve to be up there.”

On putting more than one name up at a time

“You know, I don’t know. This should have been done a long time ago. Took 33 years to get Barry’s statue out there. Should have been done a long time ago. Bringing up (Bob) Fenimore and all them, I didn’t want to get into, if you go way back, there’s a lot of names that can go up there. What we’re doing now is, with the new administration, we’re trying to play a little bit of catch up and fast forward some things, and there’s only so much we can do at a time. I say we, whoever is involved in this. I guess I’m involved in it. We’ll come up with the plan and start to get some sort of structure on how this happens and where. There’s enough qualified players that it doesn’t have to be one or two a year, to be honest with you, because we got to play catch up. So for that reason, once we come between Chad (Weiberg) and if Dr. (Kayse) Shrum wants to be involved, we’ll come up with a plan to get caught up on some players, their names that need to be up there.”

On what is was like bringing so many former players back this past week

“Well, it means it’s busy for me. There was a lot going on for me last week, but that’s what has to happen. Ultimately, we need a director of former players that is in our building over here with us. It’s a big job, and if done correctly, it can generate revenue that would be very beneficial to the athletic department and football and also spreads goodwill. Our players, former players, are just begging to be a part of football, but we’ve never had anything set up to take care of them. Football is different than any other sport because the massive amount of numbers. Just since I’ve been the head coach, we’ve graduated 379 players. That’s just since I’ve been the head coach. So, that’s 379 players that would love to be a part of our organization, but we’re not really doing it right now because we don’t have anybody that’s in charge of it. I know that Chad (Weiberg) is going to take care of that and make it happen. But what you’re talking about is what I’ve been talking about for 10 years, and a bunch of them were here. There’s so many of them out there, I couldn’t even name them all. I didn’t want to try because it wasn’t fair. But they’re here and they want to be a part, and that’s the next step for this team, this culture that we have at Oklahoma State in football to take it to another level. Just part of what we have to get accomplished.”

On Braden Cassity’s status

“He was out there yesterday doing some stuff. Again, we know more on Tuesdays. It’s hard for me to tell you. I’m about 50% on predicting, so we’ll find out. Maybe he can do more this week.”

On Tom Hutton

“He’s important. Nobody ever really talks much about snappers, holders, and kickers or punters until they miss, until they make a mistake. We’ve been very fortunate that we have — well, our deep snapper [Matt Hembrough] is fantastic. He’s probably good enough to snap in the NFL some day, and nobody notices him because he does everything right all the time. Tom’s been holding for us and doing a great job, and then obviously his target punting has been good. It’s a big part of what we do, and it doesn’t ever get brought up in settings like this until there’s an issue. And then it gets brought up. Very important for what he brings to the table, and he gives us the ability to start them inside the 10-yard line a number of times, and there’s a percentage out there, whether you start on the on the 25 to 20, to 15, the 10 or the 5 and what it is to score points, to score a touchdown, and it goes down dramatically when you set them back toward the 10-yard line.

“It took him, really, a year to kind of figure out American football. His actual kicking fundamentals, he could do that from Day 1, but the ball is different. Then kind of knowing where to kick it on the field and why kick it over here and some of the things we do, it was interesting to me that he didn’t have any idea why we were doing this. Anything that any of us do in life, if we don’t really know why we do it or what our destination is, it’s hard to get really good at it. Once he started to get a feel for American football after about a year, he really improved in understanding how to improve his game as basically a target punter. That’s what he is. I mean, even when we’re not downing them inside the 10, he’s punting the ball in a certain location, and we’re trying to cover that location. That’s what he does.”

On if Tom Hutton watches football

“I don’t have any idea. He’s married and works another job. He’s obviously much, much more mature than most young people that are playing this game. I don’t know if he watches any of that or not.”

On if there are concerns he had going into the season that he no longer has

“Until you said ‘you no longer have,’ this press conference is not long enough to tell the concerns. I feel good about our physical running backs. We didn’t know Jaylen Warren, so we weren’t sure. But I feel good about where we’re at there. Defensively, I know it was important to stay healthy because of the style of defense we play, and what we’re trying to accomplish, we need a number of players to rotate in and keep those guys fresh so that our reps don’t add up and we get to this part of the season, our fatigue and we don’t practice very well. Fortunately, that’s worked for us. I had a concern about that, and we’ve been lucky from that standpoint. I mean, other than that, not much.”

On if he’ll watch the College Football Playoff Ranking show

“No, I haven’t done that. I know this sounds funny, but I know they have the show on Tuesdays, I don’t even know what time the show is. But I’ve not ever looked at that just because basically it doesn’t matter. If I look at it, it’s not gonna matter. Now, I’m gonna know because all my buddies I grew up with are gonna text me. It’s not like I’m trying to not know, but I don’t really have to go look because everybody’s gonna tell me what’s going on.

“I don’t know. However many teams in front of us lost, we usually move up one spot. Pretty common.”

On how Dominic Richardson ran vs. TCU

“He’s good. He ran physical. With Dom, if he gets through the interior and you’re a second-level guy coming to tackle him, you better buckle up. It is what it is. I don’t think that’s a secret, just calling it like it is. I would prefer that he sometimes go away from the other guy. He runs at the other guy on purpose, but that’s who he is. That’s what he likes to do.”

On if it was personal for Richardson running against TCU, who he signed with out of high school

“I forgot about that until last night. Then I heard somebody talking about it, but he does that in every game. You’ve seen him. He gets in the open field and starts looking for somebody to run over. He’s a pretty level-headed guy. You know, recruiting now is, anybody gets their feelings hurt, recruits or coaches, just wasting your time. Can’t ever tell what’s going to happen the next day.”

On hosting official visitors during the season

“The reason that it’s not easy is because we don’t have the amount of time to spend with them. We get them here for 48 hours, and during that time, we feel like that we need to give them everything they need, all the quality information, to make a good decision on Oklahoma State. And when it’s a game weekend, we’re busy, we’re working. So I’ve always been concerned about it just from the standpoint that they leave and ‘I didn’t really get to spend a lot of time with Coach (Rob) Glass or Coach (Charlie) Dickey or Coach Gundy,’ or whoever because it’s just impossible for us to be able to handle them and spend time with them like we do in the offseason. But it’s a part of the new wave. Young men want to be on a campus, some of them do, want to be on campus on a game weekend. So we do the best we can to make it work. There’s not as much of a personal touch because there’s just not time, individual time.”

On what he remembers about Malcolm Rodriguez’s recruitment process

“Well he wasn’t recruited. He claims that Wyoming recruited him. When we found out about him and being a four-sport guy and all that and then watched him on tape, we offered him and tried to get him ASAP. Most people that are good at three or four things like he is at a really high, high level are very superior athletes, and they also can think really fast. That’s a sign of a good football player, a guy who can think fast and has superior athletic ability. There’s not a lot of people running around that can be a multiple state champion wrestler, play shortstop in baseball to the level to get drafted, be a quarterback on a team that went 33-1 over his career without being very savvy [in the head].”

On Rodriguez entering the Top 5 in program tackles

“He just is who he is. He plays hard. He loves to play the game. He’s competitive. He’s tough. What you see out there is just really kind of who he is. That’s a big-time accomplishment — almost 400 tackles or something. I told him if he had a couple more years, he could break the record. It was pretty special for him, good for a local guy to have that much success.”

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