The Rundown: Everything Mike Gundy Said at His Bye Week Media Availability

October 5, 2021

STILLWATER — The Cowboys are off this week, but the work doesn’t stop.

Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy met with reporters following his team’s Tuesday practice. Here is what he had to say.

On the practice plan this week

“So we worked them out Sunday night, They were off yesterday, and then we were an hour and a half today, maybe an hour and a half tomorrow, and then we’ll let them off until Sunday night. Coaches will leave to go recruiting Wednesday. That’ll be about all.”

On preparing for Texas

“Well, we’ve got a lot of work. This will be the most talented team we’ve played, athletically, so, we have to be sound in the special teams like we have. Hopefully we can continue to play good defense, minimize big plays and then offensively, we have to play with our special teams and with our defense. And what I mean by that is take good care of the football, continue to rush the football. See we were at 4.2 a carry running the ball against Baylor if you take away the end of the game loss of yardage and right before half. So if we can keep that up that’ll help a lot. But, as I mentioned after the game, we need to be in the plus category in turnovers to give ourselves a good chance to play the best we can against these guys.”

On watching the OU vs. Texas game

“Well, obviously we’ve watched all their games and at this point, most of us are kind of who we are now. So what you see on tape is really what you’re going to get. We get a couple extra days of work. So from that standpoint, it should be an advantage for us. The guys were focused for us today and did a good job. So that can only help us. And then obviously we’ll watch the game and see where they are at. Defensively they’ve been four down, they went three now last week against TCU. So we’ll see what they do against Oklahoma. And then offensively, it’s the same stuff they’ve done forever.”

On if he has a feel for where his team is at now that it’s October

“Yeah, I know who we are and I have a good feel for our football team. Like everybody, I’m holding my breath because we’ve played so well defensively that you would think eventually, you might not have as good a day. But we’re very experienced on defense. Those guys have had a lot of reps, and I’m confident that they’ll continue to play really well. And I am confident that we will improve offensively. Because it starts with rushing the football, and we’ve continued to run the ball well for what, three weeks in a row now? So, as long as we continue to rush the ball well, we’ll be just fine offensively. I would think that there’s some people that are concerned in that area, I’m really not concerned. I’m not concerned about our philosophy, our schemes, I’m not concerned about Coach (Kasey) Dunn. I’m not concerned about any of that. We just have to put a little bit more together each week. And I’m not trying to present that we’re playing where I want us to offensively, but we know how to fix it and make it a little bit better each week.”

On getting injured players back for the Texas game

“Well, we should, but I’m out of the prediction business. I thought we’d have [Dezmon Jackson] last week, and he couldn’t go. Brock Martin is pushing to play. He was trying to fraudulently sign his own parental release form last week. And then you have (Tyren) Irby that’s trying to come back, I’m not sure. And the same with [Jackson]. So there’s guys that are right on the verge, and if we can get them up and moving around a little bit this week, then maybe next week when we get him into some team reps and try to get a few plays out of them at Texas.”

On if LD Brown will be back against Texas

“No, he won’t be back against Texas.”

On Brock Martin wanting to get back so soon after his injury

“You run into a few like that. I think I made him feel guilty, you’re too young to know, but I gave him the story of when I tore my PCL and then played the next week. I said, ‘You dislocated your elbow, what’s the big deal? I tore my PCL and played the next week. I don’t understand.’ So that kind of really locked him up. He got real pale. He’s a pretty special young man when it comes to that. It’s simple. He loves to compete and he loves football, and he’s also at a point in his career — I had a good discussion with him last Friday. He is at a point in his career where he understands there’s only so many games left. And he loves to play football, so he wants back out there.”

On if Brock Martin knows Mike Gundy is a former wrestler

“Brock and I and Malcolm (Rodriguez), we’re close. We talk a lot about wrestling.”

On how recruits feel about the state of the program

“Well we’re in good shape, because we really only have two slots left, based on where we think we would be with numbers and it’s hard to predict the portal and all those different things. But really just a couple spots left, maybe three. So we’re in good shape with what we have, we obviously have to keep those guys. I mean, you can lose any at any time. We still have young men coming in on official visits and leaving and we have several more scheduled over the next few weeks. So, I like where we’re at. I like our class. We’re going to hold two, maybe three for transfers. It’s really the first time we’ve ever just come right out and said we were going to do that. It’s just the way the game’s being played now. It’s a little unusual. Hope to get some sort of ruling or course of direction from the NCAA or the football oversight committee, I don’t even know who’s in charge anymore, on how we’re going to handle next year’s ‘super seniors.’ Whether they’re going to count against us or not numbers wise makes a huge difference. So hopefully we’ll get a little direction over the next couple months and that’ll help us prior to signing day.”

On a proposal to be able to replace up to seven transfers with an expanded recruiting class

“You know, it’s a number that somebody put out there, and I’m not sure, well I do understand what they’re trying to accomplish. Years ago we started to change rules for the safety of our players. And if we don’t get the numbers back to where they’re supposed to be based on teams that could potentially have transfers, and you’re practicing with fewer players, you’re back to not protecting the safety of the players, it’s not serving its purpose. So, if we have young men that are medically unable to play, guys that go to the NFL, players that choose to transfer to another school, we should be able to replace it, one for one. And then, most of the schools in the country will be able to keep their numbers up, and you don’t see a huge drop off. There have been teams across the country over the last six or eight years that experienced huge drop off in scholarship numbers, and it’s extremely difficult to win football games, and recover.

“So, I just don’t understand why we don’t go one for one. And I know they say, ‘Well you can bring a young man in and tell him you don’t want to hear anymore,’ and he leaves and you can replace him. It’s really kind of bad business right? I mean, I don’t know how well that would help you recruit in the future. And we have what we call social media, so it’s not hard to get information out there. So I don’t think that would be an issue. It just needs to be, if you have five or six guys that say, ‘I want to go to the NFL’ or ‘I want to go play somewhere else,’ we’ve all agreed that that’s okay, we should be able to replace those five or six guys. And then, I don’t see any issues.”

On if the assistants are excited to be able to recruit on the road again

“Yeah, I think so. You know, we haven’t really been out in a long long time so we’re not in a contact period. Can’t have communication with them, but we’re in a time where they can get out, watch games. Best way to evaluate talent is to watch them live. So, I know they’re excited about that side of it.”

On if OSU has done anything with analytics that some schools are using now

“Two years ago we subscribed to that analytic service, and I’m not against any of them. We used the one, you know the (Philadelphia) Eagles started using and it became real popular. So we bought it and used it, and had it for every game. And it’s way more information that I can absorb. So I didn’t use it. I just go off a gut feeling now. I’m not saying it’s not good. I think there’s some good information there. I just couldn’t figure it all out and then get a feel in the game, fast enough to make a call. So we do not use it anymore on our play calling or whether to go for it or not, but I know there’s quite a few schools that do.”

On if he was trying to get a review for the spot on fourth down late in the game against Baylor

“I was, and I’m still not real fired up about the spot, but it wouldn’t have been a first down. It would have made it (shorter), in my opinion, but obviously somebody else had their own opinion.”

On how Jaylen Warren is handling the heavy workload

“So far, but I would like to not go so far in depth that we have to find out. Dominic (Richardson) is getting better each week and getting more experience and needs to start taking some of that load, and hopefully [Dezmon Jackson] will come back next week and get some practice, and can take some of the load off of it as well. So, if we have to give it to him, we’re gonna give it to him, but I would prefer — 25 carries, you guys that have covered me for a number years, kind of know that’s kind of my max, where I get concerned over. How’s he gonna feel Week 8, and then Week 10 with all that? So he wants it, he’ll take it 40 times a game, but we need to do a better job of that and so Dominic, and hopefully we can get [Jackson] back.”

On if he tries to give Jaylen Warren more rest during the bye week

“He won’t rest. I can try, but he’s out here, he runs. I tried to limit him when he gets a hand off to 15 yards, he run 40 yards so I give up on him. I mean that’s what you’re supposed to do, but I’m trying to get him back, hopefully, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, he’ll get caught. He just likes to play football. He loves to play and he loves to practice.”

On Danny Godlevske’s block for Jaylen Warren’s second touchdown

“He had to hold off the big boy [Siaki Ika]. That play was very well blocked. If you stop it, once Jaylen had the ball and he was about a yard behind the line of scrimmage, everybody was blocked and everybody was sealed off. It was a really nice football play. I was more impressed Sunday after grading the tape with our offensive line run blocking than I was Saturday after the game based on the structure the defense lined up in. They lined up in more of a bear front, which is non-zone running, and we were able to still rush the ball effectively into a bear front, which was pretty impressive. And they had a 370-pound guy in the middle.”

On how the offensive line has developed

“I feel a lot better. Knock on wood, we’ve settled into five, and they’re starting to work together and coming around a little bit. They’re not the finished product, but they’re getting better. You guys watch it, you can see. You can see them getting better. There’s more plays where our backs are getting in the line of scrimmage before they have to make a cut instead of cutting in the backfield. That’s signs of us improving in the running game. Baylor had pretty good. Baylor had been pretty good against the run against teams that were capable of running the ball some.”

On where he sees room for improvement on the offensive line

“Just gotta keep doing it. This team that we’re gonna play next up front, their front six of seven, whatever you want to call them, will be the most active that we’ve played up to this point. Baylor was pretty good up front also, but this team is gonna have a little more depth and be a little more active up front that even Baylor was. So, it’ll be a real challenge for us in this game, and it’ll give us a pretty good idea of where we’re at.”

On Caleb Etienne

“He’s doing good. He’s not ready yet, obviously, or he’d be playing. He continues to get work with the twos. If he comes along or the light comes on for lack of a better term, then we’ll start to work him in. Cole (Birmingham) is playing really well right now. (Etienne) not playing football for a year and a half really affected him, us bringing him along.”

On Alex Hale

“I haven’t watched him. I put him on the driving range. So, I just left him alone. He’s like the pitcher going into the eighth or ninth inning with a no-hitter and nobody talks to him. We just left him alone. He’s working on his game, and we’re gonna evaluate him the middle of next week and kinda see where he’s at.”

On being good on third downs defensively the past two seasons

“Well, Coach (Jim) Knowles and his staff, they deserve a lot of credit. We’ve talked about this a number of years since he’s been here, he’s been impressive to me as far as changing style of play to fit this league. We’ve been good at what we do. Everybody knows we’re a high-risk defense. We take a lot of chances, and at times you can get beat up on it. But, it’s worked for us so far. I don’t think there’s any question that we would’ve not won at least three games we’ve already won if they weren’t playing at an extremely high level. Their challenge will be greater this next game. They’re gonna face skill across the board, and they’re gonna face the best offensive line they’ve seen so far. I have confidence in them with where they’re at. Coach does a good job on third downs. He gets in some different looks and adjusts a few things to try to create some confusion. And we’ve had a good pass rush, right? As long as you get a decent pass rush, you have a chance.”

On how OSU starts playing better offense in the second half

“Gosh, I don’t know. Open up the suggestion box, I’m listening. We were OK the last game in the first half. We were really good the game before. And we haven’t done as well in the second half, as we all know. Most years, we’ve been better in second halves offensively than first halves. We’ve made really good adjustments and been much better. That hasn’t happened this year. I don’t have an answer for you. I can’t even make one up for you. We have to reduce some things and maybe get better at fewer things than try to be so broad and run so many different concepts. That’s where I start. Any time you’re in a situation like we are, then I would prefer to cut back than to add and see if we can get better at just a few things. That’s what we’re working on this week.”

On the process of making halftime adjustments

“Well, everybody’s down. We’re on a whiteboard, and all the plays from the first half are written up there and all your coverages and all your fronts. Then we go over our call script and our available plays, and you put those up and how they fit in. Then you script your first 12 plays for the second half. Then you have another script of plays you want to get to, based on what was good in the first half or what you think you should’ve run and you didn’t get to in the first half. Then you’re always gonna have six or eight plays that you block out because they weren’t any good based on what we thought and what they thought, and you get rid of those.

“We’ve used that from, I can go all the way back to when Les Miles was the coordinator and I was the quarterback coach.”

On ranking the future Big 12 schools when he is doing his coaches poll

“Well Cincinnati is way up there, so I continue to bump them on up. Houston and UCF weren’t ranked, and then BYU won again, so I kind of move them up. I try not to be partial to my conference because I don’t think, as a person that is responsible for rankings, I don’t think that’s my job. My job is to try to figure out who I think is the best and place them where they are. It’s easy to look and see where everybody’s at now. Sometimes, you could’ve asked me on a normal year what BYU’s record is, and I don’t have a clue because I don’t pay much attention to anything other than what I’m doing. Now because I’m doing these rankings, I pay a little bit more attention.”

On if it has hit him he won’t play Texas on a regular basis for much longer

“Not really. Supposedly, they’re in the league for three more years. We haven’t got that far. Sometimes it does. I’ll see something and it might make me think of it. Then, at my age, I already forgot it and doing something else. Not really.”

On if Tay Martin and Jaylen Warren having success helps them in the transfer portal moving forward

“We’ve been fortunate. We’ve had a number of guys. I think prior to last year, we had four guys that had transferred in here than had made NFL teams. We had had a good product to sell from that standpoint, and this will even help us more. What most players are looking for in that transfer portal is, ‘Can I come in and play?’ Because they’re usually leaving because they’re not playing. Or you’ll get a player like Jaylen, who might be at a level where he says, ‘I want to go to the highest level and go play football.’ That’s what you’re looking at in the portal. We’ve been very fortunate that we’ve had quality players transfer in here.”

On previously having a bunch of defensive transfers and now having offensive transfers

“Forever here, we had so many offensive players, nobody could come in here and get on the roster. You know all those guys we had here for 10 years. Defensively, up until a couple, three years ago, we were struggling. So, guys felt like they could come in and start. That’s just the truth, call it like it is.”

On Dominic Richardson

“He’s just now kind of maturing and getting comfortable out there. There’s so many moving parts. He played considerably last year in one game. And then this year, he’s getting in more now because of where we’re at from an injury standpoint, so he gets comfort. That’s the thing that’s interesting about college football players is, just get the Mac Jones theory, the guy that plays for the Patriots: guy played one year. He’s sitting there, he’s pretty good, and for three or four years he’s just been in practice. We don’t know how good he is because he never gets on the field. So, a guy like Dominic that now can get in a little bit of a routine, he can start to blossom and flourish a little bit because he’s in a rhythm. And what happens, and I don’t know what the answer is, when some of these guys don’t get in games multiple times and get going, we never know how good they are. Just because they’re not in the game. He’s done well for not having as many live reps. If we rushed the ball 40 times in the next game I would sure like to get him at least 10 carries. Take some workload off of them.”

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