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The Top 5 Quotes from Mike Gundy’s Pre-Houston News Conference

Gundy talks UCF fallout, Holgorsen, Big 12 tiebreakers and more.



[Devin Wilber/PFB]

STILLWATER — Mike Gundy entered the press box at Boone Pickens Stadium flanked by two dogs for his Monday media luncheon.

“I figured I might need a guard dog after that coaching, so I brought two of them,” Gundy said.

Oklahoma State is coming off a 45-3 loss to UCF this past Saturday in Orlando. The Cowboys have a game at 3 p.m. Saturday in Houston against the Cougars, and OSU still has a shot to get to Arlington for the Big 12 title game. Here are the top five quotes from Mike Gundy’s Monday news conference.

Bouncing Back

The Cowboys got torched on Saturday — an impressive feat considering the torrential downpour in Orlando.

It went against the trajectory this team put itself on during the conference portion of the schedule. The Cowboys were on a five-game winning streak and controlled their destiny to get back to the Big 12 title game. But this isn’t the first time this year the Pokes will be tasked with rebounding after a disappointing loss. They lost to South Alabama 33-7.

After getting rolled 48-0 in Manhattan last season, the Cowboys’ season took an immediate nosedive. OSU lost five of six including that game against Kansas State. But despite Saturday’s shellacking, it doesn’t sound as if Gundy is too worried the 2023 Cowboys will suffer a similar fate.

“I’m not worried about the coaches — they’re programmed,” Gundy said. “I’m not worried about those guys. And I can control them — unfortunately for them. So they’re going to do what they’re supposed to do when they’re supposed to do it, how they’re supposed to do it in their own personality. That’s their job. They get paid to do that, so I’m not worried about them one bit.

“And I really feel good about our team rallying back after watching them after the game, on the bus, in the airport, in the airplane. How they traveled, they did it the right way, which there wasn’t anybody b—-ing and complaining, pointing fingers, but they also weren’t laughing and smiling.”

Michalski ‘Didn’t Practice Last Week’

Joe Michalski has been a pleasant surprise on OSU’s offensive line this season.

He was PFF’s highest-graded center nationally after Oklahoma State’s 39-32 win against Kansas and has been part of a position group that has paved the way for Ollie Gordon to be the nation’s leading rusher with two regular-season weeks to play. But, he was ill entering the Cowboys’ game against UCF.

Michalski still started against the Knights, but he split some time with promising redshirt freshman Austin Kawecki. Per PFF, Michalski played 55 snaps to Kawecki’s 10 (freshman JaKobe Sanders also got in late and played six snaps). PFF graded Michalski at a 63.2 — second-best among OSU O-linemen behind Dalton Cooper (76.8). Kawecki wasn’t all that far behind at a 60.7.

“Joe didn’t practice last week,” Gundy said. “I saw Joe last Monday. Next time I saw him was Friday afternoon. Kawecki had to do most of what we needed to get done last week. It was good to get him in and play.”

The Importance of Playing from Ahead

A common theme from Oklahoma State’s five-game winning streak: The Cowboys were playing from ahead.

The Pokes scored on their first possession in all five of those games. Against Kansas State, OSU started with a 10-0 lead. Against Kansas, OSU started with a 14-0 lead. Against West Virginia, OSU started with a 10-0 lead. Against Cincinnati, OSU started with a 7-0 lead. Against Oklahoma, OSU started with a 7-0 lead.

Against UCF, OSU started in a 24-0 deficit and didn’t score until the second half.

Most teams would probably prefer to play from ahead — duh. But it seems extra important to this OSU squad that is thin at wide receiver and has the nation’s leading rusher in the backfield.

“We were rolling pretty good the first two drives, then we have a fumble and a doink interception,” Gundy said. “We actually started the game pretty good, so I was pleased with our first 10 plays that we talk about a lot. It’s easier to play from ahead — we know that. Does it guarantee it one way or the other? No. Because then you kinda know that you’re in control of what’s going on and maybe you have the chalk last. You get a chance to kinda make decisions because things are working.

“We don’t do this because we have quite a bit of maturity on our staff and they’ve been with us a long time, but sometimes coaches get in a panic mode early in a game when they don’t need to. They just need to stick with the plan.”

Gundy on Holgorsen

Dana Holgorsen was in Stillwater only one season, which given his legend among certain parts of the OSU fanbase is hard to believe.

Under Holgorsen in 2010, Oklahoma State ranked third nationally in total offense and points per game  — averaging 520.2 yards and 44.2 points a game. The Cowboys ranked second nationally in pass offense that year behind only Hawaii.

That season propelled Holgorsen to his first head coaching job at West Virginia, where he spent eight seasons before making the move to Houston — where OSU got Holgorsen from when he was the Cougars’ OC in 2008 and 2009.

When Holgorsen left, he handed the reigns to Todd Monken, who after two stellar seasons, turned the OSU offense over to Mike Yurcich.

That stretch of nine seasons with Holgorsen, Monken and Yurcich at the helm saw OSU’s offense finish in the top 20 nationally eight times (thanks, 2014). Each of those coordinators had at least one season with the offense in the top five nationally — Holgorsen in 2010, Monken in 2011 and 2012, and Yurcich in 2017.

So, in a lot of ways — not to discredit the work of Larry Fedora or Gunter Brewer — Holgorsen helped kickstart the offensive renaissance that took place in Stillwater.

“We brought Dana in because we thought he was a smart offensive coach, which he is, and he had experience calling plays,” Gundy said. “And we knew we had a lot of firepower throwing passes. He had a history with Coach (Mike) Leach, so that’s why we did it. He came in and kinda put terminology in and used the talent we had. … We would go into games with 12, 15 plays — that’s it. Because he knew that we had good players. We didn’t want to screw them up. Just let them go play.

“We kept a lot of that. We integrated running the football when he came here. There was some things that I wanted to do that he integrated into our system, his system, and we tied it all together and it ended up being pretty good. And then Todd (Monken) came in and finagled it a little bit and made it better. And then (Mike) Yurcich came in and learned, and he kind of worked his way through it. Now we’ve been flexible. We can throw it some, we can run it some, we’re balanced some based on our what our talent level is.”

Gundy Has ‘No Idea’ on Tiebreaker Scenarios

With the 10-team round robin a thing of the past in this 14-team Big 12, one almost needs a trigonometry degree to figure out the Big 12 tiebreakers.

Dekota did his best to break it down for us on Sunday, but even when it is worded perfectly correctly, it’s tough to understand. There is a world where Oklahoma State, Oklahoma and Kansas State finished tied in second, and the Cowboys wouldn’t get the last spot in Arlington despite having beaten OU and K-State because OU and K-State haven’t played each other. If that were to happen, put it up there with the 2011 BCS and the 2018 NCAA Tournament as far as something OSU is involved in breaking the system.

It’s madness.

As things stand, Texas is alone in first in the league at 6-1, while OSU, OU, K-State and Iowa State are all tied in second at 5-2. Some of that will work itself out because some of those teams play one another over the final two weeks of the season. But if you’re an Oklahoma State fan (which is likely how you stumbled across this here website), the easiest thing to hope for would be a two-team tie with OU or Kansas State because then the tiebreaker would be the head-to-head game.

If you want to try to decipher the tiebreakers yourself, here they are. Here is an incredibly helpful tool that breaks down this mess — assuming this tool does, in fact, have the tiebreaker scenarios correctly. Dekota is going to get a story done using that tool later in the week.

Lastly, here is what Gundy said about the madness.

“I have no idea,” Gundy said. “I couldn’t even tell you what it is — no way. Because, for me — you know — it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter what I think or what I know. I just know if we win it helps. I put all my energy into that. I literally have no idea how all that works.”

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