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The Top 5 Quotes from Mike Gundy’s Final Spring Practice News Conference

Gundy talks Mark Daigneault, new rules and more.



[Devin Wilber/PFB]

STILLWATER — And with that, the Cowboys’ spring media sessions are wrapped up.

Mike Gundy met with the media on Tuesday ahead of Oklahoma State’s practice in what will be the final time Gundy meets with reporters this spring. Here are five things he said that stood out, with video of his full news conference below.

1. ‘Go Thunder’

Gundy started and closed his media scrum by saying “Go Thunder.”

Under NBA Coach of the Year Mark Daigneault, this season’s young Thunder squad earned the 1 seed in the league’s tough Western Conference. OKC started its first-round series against the New Orleans Pelicans with a 94-92 win on Sunday. And as of late, Gundy has formed a bit of a relationship with the 39-year-old Daigneault. Daigneault has driven up to Stillwater to take in some of the Cowboys’ practices.

“He called and asked if he could start coming to practice one day,” Gundy said. “I said, ‘Sure.’ He came and we had good conversation for quite a while and have stayed in touch on the phone and have built a distance relationship. I have a lot of respect for what he’s done. We’ve talked on the phone a few times, and over spring break we talked for quite a while about some things.

“I’ve just enjoyed getting to know him. Seems to be a pretty smart guy. Uses all his weapons he can get his hands on to make himself and his team better.”

2. Most Growth in Spring

It was a bit of a unique spring, but in a good way for the Cowboys.

There is so much returning firepower that, from a media perspective, there wasn’t too much to learn over the past month or so. There aren’t a ton of first-string position battles taking place. For example, the Cowboys lost tight end Josiah Johnson but replaced him with Ohio transfer Tyler Foster.

Much of what is going to make this team go in 2024 is already known to some extent — especially offensively. Defensively, the Cowboys seem to be tinkering with a few things schematically in Year 2 of Bryan Nardo by implementing more four-down looks along the defensive front.

Gundy was asked about where he has seen the biggest strides this spring.

“We’re pretty mature on offense, so we started at a really high level, and we haven’t had to adjust much,” Gundy said. “Defensively, we’ve done a good job with different fronts. Obviously, we play a three-down, but it’s not any secret that we’re playing some four-down with it. That’s been a learning process. Even though we’ve played a lot of four-down here in the past, it doesn’t mean you can just walk right into it. So, we’ve made some pretty good strides in that area.”

3. Helmet Communication

An OSU offensive player and defensive player will have an earpiece this season so that coaches can communicate with them pre-snap, as the NCAA announced those changes were approved last week.

The players who can hear the coaches will be indicated by a green dot on the back of the players’ helmets. It would make sense that Alan Bowman would be OSU’s offensive player, but Gundy said they haven’t decided on who the defensive player will be, saying it’ll probably be either a linebacker or a safety.

Gundy said he thinks it’s a step in the right direction, but said he would have preferred if five players could wear earpieces at a time. His reasoning is that college teams rarely huddle. In the NFL, most teams huddle all the time, so the one player with the communication piece can tell the others the play. With non-huddling college offenses, that leaves quarterbacks then having to signal to the players on the outside, essentially meaning that signal could’ve just came from the sideline in the first place.

“We’re using it,” Gundy said. “I hate to speak for anybody else, but it’s going to be a growing process and a learning process, in my opinion. In the NFL, they huddle up on both sides of the ball. Colleges don’t huddle up, so one earpiece in one player, in my opinion, doesn’t do much for college football on either side of the ball. Because one guy either has to yell what he hears to everybody, which is not gonna go over good in a big stadium and college football environment, or you’re back to signaling.

“I think it’s a step in the right direction. I’m just not sure we took the step that’s going to solve the issues that forced us into this situation.”

4. ‘We’re Migrating Towards the NFL’

Along with helmet communications being allowed, college teams are also allowed to use tablets on the sideline and two-minute warnings will be implemented into the college game.

College football started speeding up a bit last season with clocks still rolling after first downs, so Gundy mentioned that the two-minute warning ought to slow things down a little bit — particularly as it pertains to teams trying to come back late in games.

Gundy mentioned that he remembers watching Gunnar Gundy play at Stillwater High, and when they’d trot to the sideline after a series, there would be a whole TV set up for the Pioneers to break down different looks midgame. So, it sort of seems like it was about time the college game was able to use technology on the sideline.

With that being said, college football is now further mirroring the pro game.

“We’re migrating towards the NFL in everything we do now,” Gundy said. “We’re going that direction in technology and two-minute warnings. We’re paying players. We’re becoming the minor league system of the NFL basically is what’s happening. Revenue share is right around the corner. It makes sense that we’re moving in that direction. The things that are being implemented in our game are being patterned after what they do in the NFL.”

5. Expect to See Two Punters Again

The Cowboys used both Hudson Kaak and Wes Pahl for punts last season, and Gundy said the expect that again in 2024.

An Australian, Kaak was a freshman last season. He punted 38 times, downing teams inside the 20 on 20 occasions. Pahl, a redshirt senior, transferred to Stillwater from Western Kentucky ahead of last season. He was moreso the Cowboys’ distance punter, having a 45.1-yard average on his 27 attempts.

“We’ll use both punters, yes,” Gundy said. “Now, [Kaak] has been the best pooch-punt guy, obviously, because that’s the world he grew up in. But we’ll use both of them up in the field. There will be a time for both of them to play this year.”

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