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Gundy, Cowboys Preview Kansas Game

October 11, 2012
Richmond High School

STILLWATER, Okla. - Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundyand members of the Cowboy football team visited with the media Monday in Boone Pickens Stadium to talk about this week's game at Kansas. Some of their comments:

Head Coach Mike Gundy

Opening Statement:
"We've obviously talked about the Texas game and now we're moving forward to Kansas. We got our players back from fall break last night and we practiced. Like always we have a day off today and then back at it tomorrow. We're all looking forward to a good week of practice and then traveling to Lawrence and getting back on the field. It's always exciting to get back on the field when you don't finish like you wanted to in the last game. The players' attitude and morale are really good and we're just looking forward to a good week of practice."

On success on the road:
"We talk about being able to start fast in the game and playing with a lot of energy early. I think they understand, and most of college football understands, that you need to start fast on the road in order to get the crowd out of the game and to not let momentum build. I think that is important when you're playing on the road."

On not looking at an opponent's win-loss record:
"We had the discussion last night at the end of practice and it's similar to what I said about playing on the road. It's magnified when you play a team - in some people's opinion - when you play a team that people may not get excited about playing. We're not far enough along and we're not mature enough at key positions to overlook anyone at any time. It's been several years now that we've been talking about the parity in college football and especially in this conference. You just have to look at the scores across the country and it's getting more and more exciting for television networks and the fans, but more difficult for the coaches. If you turn the ball over a couple times and miss a few tackles and the other team hits a few plays, then you can be in a difficult situation in the fourth quarter. You just have to look at the scores and you can see that happening every Saturday."

On having both bye weeks so early:
I think we've had good practices. We've been able to get out on the road and work hard with recruiting. Players came back last night and were out on the field. I think the perfect situation would be to have an open week after the fourth or fifth week and then again after the eighth or ninth week. We can't do anything about it but we've tried to take full advantage of the situation that we did have."

On the parity in the conference:
"We think as a one-loss team that we can win the league. A two-loss team may even win this league with what's out there. I don't know that anyone knows. West Virginia and Kansas State have set themselves up early, but it's really early. There's a lot of football out there and a lot of factors can play into that. You have to stay healthy and you have to take care of the football, and I think most coaches would agree with that. That provides for an exciting two months coming up."

On the importance of defense:
"It's important to understand that third downs get you off the field, and sometimes in our league fourth downs have to get you off the field. If you watch games, the critical areas in college football are third downs, limiting big plays and taking care of the football. It's not just one team, it's just about everybody in the league. I think you'll see that teams that play well on third down or fourth down, take care of the football, and try to eliminate the big plays are the ones that are winning."

On J.W. Walsh maturing as he plays:
"He's got a couple games of experience. He has some of the same characteristics. He's competitive and his work ethic and leadership ability are very good. He's growing and maturing with the position through 150 to 200 plays. His learning curve has started. You have to get into it a little bit before you start to learn. Brandon Weedenwas here for three years before we played him and he still went through that learning curve in his first 250 to 300 snaps. Walsh has started that learning curve. He's made mistakes and corrected those mistakes and had successful plays that have followed those mistakes. He's different in that way than he was on September 1st."

Defensive Coordinator Bill Young

On his time as defensive coordinator at Kansas:
"It was a lot of hard work. We had some recruits pan out better than people thought. Getting to a bowl game was a major achievement in the beginning. It can be tough because when the state of Kansas produces a Joseph Randle or Devin Hedgepeth, teams like us go in and steal them. But, it was really a fun time. Lawrence is a great place to live, raise a family and go to college."

On trying to force more turnovers:
"We've been working on it every day. We worked on it last night. We're just emphasizing it to no end. Eventually it will turn around. The ball is going to bounce the right way or we'll get a tipped pass. I've always felt turnovers come in droves and hopefully we'll have one of those five turnover games soon and try to catch up. We're definitely behind and we have to do something to make up ground."

On what he learned during his time at Kansas that he takes with him today:
"One of the things is we had a tremendous staff there. Mark Mangino did a great job of coaching and organizing. We had a tremendous strength staff as well. Our strength coach there is now the strength coach at Kansas State. It was just a lot of hard work. That's what it took."

On how the bye week helped preparation:
"We were able to hold off on two or three people that were a little banged up and allow them to get their legs back underneath them. It gave us an opportunity to really work hard on some fundamentals and some things where we made mistakes in the Texas game - just trying to get those things corrected."

Offensive Coordinator Todd Monken

On what the bye week meant for the team:
"It's our second bye week in three weeks, so it's beneficial to Wes Lunt for getting his health back, it's beneficial to J.W. Walsh getting reps and from that end of it we had a couple other guys banged up. Evan Epstein with an ankle and Jeremy Smithtweaked his ankle against Texas, so that helped. So the bye week was beneficial more than anything."

On Wes Lunt's progression with his injury:
"Wes was out there throwing the other night in pads. He threw the ball really well, and that gave us some encouragement. We just have to get to the point where we are confident he can run. He ran a little bit the other night, so we're hopeful to get him back this week so we can see if he can protect himself. I think that's the biggest thing. Also, seeing who gives us the best chance to win."

On when this week's starting quarterback will be decided:
"It'll be decided midweek because someone has to take the reps with the ones. You have to move in the direction that you want to go with your offense. Obviously by Tuesday or Wednesday we'll know. Now whether everyone around the country will know, I don't know, but we will."

On what he sees on film from Kansas:
"It's a new staff. I think they're not only evaluating who they have personnel-wise, but also it's the players getting used to what the coaches want. They play hard. I think they've been really competitive on defense. Up until last week, they hadn't really given up big plays and they hadn't missed a lot of tackles. That's the sign of a good defense. I just think last week kind of snowballed on them. They were playing pretty well, but the turnovers against a really good team hurt. There's nothing that you can really count on from them."

Quarterback J.W. Walsh

On Kansas:
"I've only watched them on film. They're a well-coached football team and we prepare for them like we prepare each week."

On the bye week:
"It was good, I went home and relaxed with my family. I watched some football and mostly tried to do as much relaxing as I could because I know the rest of the season is going to be a grind."

On the Kansas defense:
"They mix up their coverages and they'll play soft or come up tighter. You're not really sure what they're going to be doing. They are a lot like our defense and it's really familiar so we'll keep watching and learning."

On the Texas game:
"That night was tough for us as a team because we know we played well. We know that part of it just didn't fall for us that night. But the next morning we moved on and we prepared for Kansas. I feel like we just have to move forward and focus on Kansas and our future opponents."

On the team's morale following the last two weeks:
"We feel like we can compete with the best of the country still. We had a couple of things that didn't go well for us but we have talented guys everywhere and the Big 12 title is still out there so we feel like we can still get it."

Center Evan Epstein

On recovering from last week's loss against Texas:
"We have an 'L' in the books, so sitting there and thinking about it is going to do absolutely nothing for us. One of the greatest things about our team and about our coaching staff is that we have a really short-term memory. We're going to move on and prepare for the next game. We're not even thinking about Texas. We're thinking about Kansas."

On if he believes OSU can still contend for the Big 12 title:
"Absolutely. We still have a whole season left to play. We're going to win as many games as we possibly can. We're going to try to win every single game and we feel like we can win every single game. I feel like anyone can win any single game, which makes it a really unique situation. I think everyone in the Big 12 knows that, and it makes it even more exciting. Now that everyone knows that, they're going to prepare that much harder. It makes every single game a big game for everybody."

On getting mentally prepared for an eight-games-in-eight-weeks stretch:
"I think a lot of guys look at it differently. I'm a routine guy, and I like staying in a routine. I don't like bye weeks as much as other guys. It kind of takes you out of the flow that you're used to getting into. When you have a strict eight week schedule, it kind of helps you out with staying healthy and staying mentally prepared."

On J.W. Walsh getting comfortable with the offense:
"Honestly, I don't think he's ever been uncomfortable. He's a competitor, so he wants to play and he wants to win. He's aggressive about that, and I think he was extremely ready for his shot. He's doing a great job."

Linebacker Caleb Lavey

On the bye week:
"It really helped us recover from the Texas game. The football that we played in that game was very physical. It took its toll on our bodies, so it took a lot of time to recover. With Kansas coming up, they have some complicated schemes that they run, so the bye week gave us two weeks of preparation for them, and a chance to watch them play Kansas State."

On playing Kansas this week:
"They're really good at scheming around the defense. They played Kansas State really well until the second half. They were right there. We can't take any game off, especially this one. Kansas is a good team, and they're capable of beating anybody any week. It's a game that we have to prepare hard for. Especially playing on the road, we can't get down early."

On Kansas's offense:
"Kansas is a running offense. Like I said, they have a lot of different schemes that you don't really see with their traps and their veers. The bye week has helped us prepare for that, and we have another full week of preparation this week."

On stopping Kansas's offense:
"This week, we really have to watch our keys. This offense is one that is going to try to get you out of your correct position, so you have to know where you are, where you're supposed to be, where you're lined up and use your eyes a lot."

Defensive Tackle Davidell Collins

On the challenges that Kansas presents:
"From the film we have been watching from the Kansas State game, they look pretty good. If there had been a couple plays that would have gone their way, it would have been a closer game than the final score showed. The quarterback is talented and they have a solid run game."

On KU's offensive line:
"They look good, they are experienced and all that. They are going to give us a challenge on the inside."

On preparation for the Kansas game:
"We watch film over and over again, study on our own. We try to figure out what they like to do over and over again and then plan for that."

On how Kansas has changed from one year ago:
"They are with a different coach in Charlie Weis than they were last year so a lot of things will be different. They are balanced. They pass the ball well and run the ball well. If their run game is strong that week they run, and if their pass game is good, then they pass. It's hard to see what they are going to do. We just try to watch as much film as we can to get us ready."

Wide Receiver Isaiah Anderson

On the off week:
"It was good to get away and go home and see the family and get away for a little bit, but it's time to get back to work now."

On practice last week:
"We just critiqued a few things from the Texas game and started working on Kansas a little bit. So I feel like we have a little bit of an advantage having two weeks of preparation on them."

On the challenges of Kansas' defense:
"It's changed a lot since last year having a new defensive coordinator and the new staff they have, so they are doing a lot of things differently and it's working out for them. We have to prepare our best this week and hope it works out."

On personal improvements:
"I'm just trying to get better at route-running mostly. That's been my goal for this week, to make sure I'm coming off of my breaks clean, making sure I don't slip and fall coming out of those breaks and getting my timing down with the quarterback."

Running Back Joseph Randle

On the bye week:
"The guys who were nicked up from the last game got plenty of time to recover, and everybody is back and ready to work."

On coming off the loss to Texas:
"We can't really do anything about that game. We're just going to move on into the future and try to beat Kansas."

On KU's progress:
"These are two totally different teams from last year. Last year's team was different from this year, so we just have to focus on what it's going to take to win this year."

On potential for winning the Big 12 title:
"It's given us hope. We just have to do our part, take care of the things that we can control and get better each week."

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