STILLWATER — For the first time in a long time, Mike Gundy got to take his starters out in the first half Saturday.
Oklahoma State beat Kansas 55-3 on Saturday in Boone Pickens Stadium. After the game, Gundy met with reporters. Here is what he had to say.
“Obviously our team played really well tonight in all areas. We were fantastic on defense and we were good on offense, and played well on special teams. Gave us a chance to get a lot of guys on the field. We were able to put our twos in late in the second quarter and then as we got into the fourth quarter, let some other guys play that have been a part of this team and contributed in practice every day and work hard. So, it was a great experience to let those guys in and give them a chance to play some. Good win for our guys.
“I mentioned to them in the locker room that, you know, I asked them to focus last Sunday and have respect for everybody that we play and practice well during the week. And I felt really good about our practice. I told them Wednesday after practice that I appreciate their focus and their commitment, their discipline to prepare for this game, and they saw the results of it. So, you know Kansas has obviously had some tough games this year, but there’s been some times they played pretty good. And, you know, Coach (Lance Leipold) is building their program. I had a good conversation with Coach before the game. It was good for us to get back on the winning track, and they can enjoy the game tonight, and then we got to get back to go to work tomorrow. Travel out to West Virginia.”
On not having a fourth-quarter game
“You know, when I said we would be in a fourth-quarter game, there was nobody there to debate me because we’d been in a fourth-quarter game every game this year. So I mean, you know, there wasn’t anybody to say, ‘Well, I don’t think it’ll be a fourth-quarter game.’ So, it was unusual for us to start taking guys out in the second quarter, and it did feel a little different to me. We’ve had a lot of games around here like that, but not recently.”
On Spencer Sanders
“Well, Spencer played good. He threw the ball well. He was effective with that. And then when he had to pull the ball down and run the football, he was effective. So, he made really good decisions tonight, would be my guess. And he was fairly accurate throwing the football.”
On Spencer Sanders’ block
“That was a good block. That’s the thing about him, when people ask me about him, that’s what you get from him. I mean, he loves to play football and he throws his body around, and did a great job out there blocking on the reverse.”
On if he was nervous about Spencer Sanders laying a block with his throwing shoulder
“Not with him anymore. You know, he’s gonna do what he wants to do. Like I said, he’s kind of like the Tasmanian Devil in the cartoon. And I mean, he just rolls and goes and just keeps going and he likes to play football.”
On Oklahoma State’s defense
“They’re just playing good. I almost hate to jinx them. They’ve played well throughout the year. I think that Jim (Knowles) and the staff put good plans together. I think there’s an advantage because they’re in, I think this is his fourth year, and they have a good feel for his system. We’ve got a number of guys that are veterans that have played a lot of snaps, and it’s hard to really replace experience and maturity, and that’s what we have on that side of the ball.
“But one thing about them that’s a little different this year is they all really like each other. They enjoy practice, they have a smile on their face, they’re not afraid to exert themselves on Tuesday and Wednesday, and think that it’s going to affect their play on Saturday. Players that are young don’t exert themselves during the week, because they feel like that they’re going to fatigue themselves for Saturday’s, which is not the way it is. And when you exert yourself and practice hard Tuesday and Wednesday, it gives you the best chance to play well on Saturday.”
On what he attributes the near-perfect first half to
“Helluva head coach I think. I don’t know, we played good. I just realized, you know, we had the one penalty on pass interference — kind of questionable on that — I don’t know that there’s ever been a game here where there’s not been a penalty. So, you know, they practice good. We got on them early, snowball started rolling downhill and, you know, they couldn’t really stop it. And then it just kept going. But they just focus well in practice every week. And I just told them that I said, look, you know, we have to adjust next week. Tuesday is that day off, the NCAA’s day off, vote day. There’s not anything to vote on. The only vote going on in the country, I think, the Virginia Governor election, but we’re not supposed to practice, so we’ll go practice early [Sunday] and late Monday night and then we’ll take Tuesday off. So, I challenged them to focus and stay disciplined in getting prepared for this next game with a different schedule.”
On confidence gained from blow-out win
“You know, I told them, I said, ‘You got to go do it again.’ I mean, somebody told me [West Virginia] beat Iowa State, right? West Virginia did? So, obviously they’re playing good. They scored 38 points on them, and there ain’t been many people to score 38 points on them in the last few years. So, obviously they’re doing something right. They’re coming along, they’re moving the ball offensively and scoring some points. So, I mean, I don’t know, you know, the old deal if you could bottle it up and you’d open it and do it again next week. I don’t know what all the answers were. We’ll lean on their focus and their discipline, and lean on their willingness to practice hard during the week.”
On if four different players scoring in the first half is the balance Oklahoma State is looking for offensively
“Well, you know, we haven’t really got going offensively until today. We scored 31 points against somebody in the first half, I don’t remember who it was. We were rolling pretty good, and then I don’t think we scored in the second half. So tonight is really the first time that we rolled a little bit offensively. And we’ve had healthy wideouts now for like three weeks, so they’ve started practiced together. We haven’t rotated guys through. And I’ve said this to you before, when you have guys injured, you’re moving guys around, you’re not getting quality work in practice, because somebody is playing slot, and then he’s over here playing X. He needs to be playing slot all week in order for us — that’s what we’ve always done here, two-deep, we’ve had everybody two-deep throughout the week, and we haven’t had that this year.
“So we’re going into about three weeks now where we haven’t had guys bouncing around. And knock on wood, we’ve been healthy. And that’s helped us offensively. And we’re going to need that. You know, we’re not going to be able to win games scoring 23 points on offense. We’re gonna have to get, we’re gonna have to hit in the 30s if we’re gonna win these games.”
On how consistency at receiver is helping Spencer Sanders
“When we had all the injuries, we bounced guys around, like [Rashod Owens has] played three different spots, right? Tay (Martin is) the only one that’s been playing one spot. Everybody else has played just about every spot, except for [Brennan Presley]. When they’re bouncing around in practice during the week, you can’t get your timing down with them. It’s difficult for a quarterback to do that because you only get so many reps in practice, and then you got to get zone reps, you got to get man reps, you got to get pressure reps, the guys are changing in and out. You just don’t get much timing. That’s what happens.”
On Jaden Nixon and John Paul Richardson
“Well, we like those guys. Jaden had a really good August camp, and then he got a high-ankle [sprain]. He couldn’t do much for about five weeks. It really slowed him up. He just got back about a week and a half ago where he started to get to where he’s probably 90%. And this week, he was pretty close. And then J. Paul had the same issue. He got hurt. He had a some kind of injury to his hand and missed about a month. He’s just now gotten back and practicing a couple of weeks and got some decent work.
“When you have wide receivers that aren’t playing the same position, and then they’re young, and they’re injured, and they miss, and they come back, and they miss, you just don’t have much continuity. This is, I think, about the third week we’ve had most of our guys back. So now we’re functioning much better, just from a practice standpoint, much less what happens in the games because it’s just hard for quarterbacks and everybody. It’s hard to call plays when you don’t know what you’re going to have the next week. It’s extremely difficult.”
On Brennan Presley
“Well, Brennan is starting to show up. I mentioned this, I think in the media Monday, that’s what he did in high school, right? I mean, he played running back, played receiver, moved him all over the place. When he touches the ball eventually he’s gonna make a play. He’s not the biggest guy in the world, so his adjustment to this level was different. The speed and quickness he has, his competitive nature and his physical toughness allows him to play better than he should at a young age. Now he’s getting experience and maturity. Those are the two most important things. He’s learning to do that now. He really should touch the ball, and I think he would have tonight if we would have been in a normal game, at least 10 times, doing different things. But when we had some issues with depth at that position, he was bouncing around doing other things, so we couldn’t really lock him into doing certain things that he should have been doing because we didn’t know who we were going to have that was healthy.”
On the offense and defense complimenting each other
“The defense, they played good, and they got turnovers. They put pressure on the quarterback, right? And had him under duress. You can’t hardly get to him because he’s really fast. I know (Jayden) Jernigan told me at halftime that it’s the fastest quarterback that we’ve played this year. He said that guy was really fast. And I told them that going in the week. When they sat in here on Tuesday, I told them. I said, ‘This guy’s probably the fastest guy y’all played.’ Because I watched him on video turn the corner and run away from teams. Just containing him and getting duress, putting him under duress, then tip balls and interceptions and things like that. Obviously we get the ball and then we’re able to convert. We just played well in all three phases. We just didn’t make a lot of mistakes. We didn’t have penalties, and obviously we didn’t turn the ball over.”
On the offensive line
“They played good. They played good. They still need to play better. As we develop with our offense, with our receivers that stay healthy, and we allow Spencer to develop, they need to continue to protect better. They’re becoming a physical run team. We’ve seen that over the last four or five weeks. For the most part, they’ve been pretty good. Now they have to protect better. If they’ll protect better and then physically give us a chance to rush the football, then you’ll start to see better numbers offensively.”
On if he remembers many games where the starting quarterback was able to rest before halftime
“I will say this, you’re so young, but there’s a lot of times that we have done that. There was times around here that we had 40 points not much into the second quarter. I’m gonna guess you were in elementary school.”
On Tanner Brown’s 49-yard field goal
“I mentioned it to the team afterwards. Because a field goal kicker, it’s a lonely gig, man, when you go out there and you miss one that you should make. I know it’s big for his confidence. I told the team afterwards, ‘Hey, we made a 50-yarder, and that’s important.’ We’ll be in games from here on out where we’re gonna need to kick long field goals. So, it’s good for him to get his confidence back.”
On going for it on fourth down on the first drive
“If we didn’t think that we had a good play that would make it, we wouldn’t call it. We felt good about it. I mean, it didn’t work. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t. That’s just the way it is, but if we feel like we have a good play and it’s for the right reasons, we’ll go for it. The fourth-down situations we were in on the road, chance to take a lead, let that momentum swing a little different. When you’re at home and you miss them, the momentum swing is not a big deal because you have the home crowd. That’s just my opinion.”
On if Tylan Wallace got to interact with the team
“He’s been here for, gosh, about half this week? I think he came here at least on Thursday. So, they’ve all been goofing around with him. He’s been at practices. He’s a awesome person, and the players are glad to see him. He enjoyed coming back. Tracin is here coaching, and Tracin has long hair now so I can tell the difference in them. I, seriously, could not tell the difference in them. He’s been here for a few days. I had a good talk with him. I think he’s playing on every special team, he told me, and tackling really well and doing all that as he tries to work his way in the lineup.”
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