April 1, 2014
STILLWATER – Dressed in full pads, the Oklahoma State football team held its ninth practice of spring ball Tuesday at the Sherman E. Smith Training Facility. After the approximately two hour-long session, coach Mike Gundy and selected members of the team met with media. Their comments:
Coach Mike Gundy
“We had a good scrimmage today. There were a lot of mistakes, but there were some guys that made some plays, about 85 plays. We were able to work some field goal situations, get all three quarterbacks quality work, get the running backs some work, and try to stress some guys a little bit. Defensively, we’re a little young out there. We got exposed at times today just based on new guys. It was the first time that we’ve really played without the coaches being out there. They were on their own kind of, for a lack of a better term, but it was good today. The weather was perfect. It was quality work. We need about 50 more practices. Unfortunately, we don’t get that many, but I was pleased with the effort today. I thought we improved as a football team.”
On Tyreek Hill at tailback:
“We looked at him some at receiver, and we’ve played him some at tailback. Hopefully we can fit him into our offense enough to get him the football. He seems to be holding up. If he can figure out what we’re doing based off of the positions we’re playing him at, he should be able to help us because he is really fast.”
On if Blake Webb will be a valuable asset for team:
On the defensive line in goal-line situations:
“I hope so. We’ve got a number of players who are experienced a little bit, not a lot, and he’s one of them. Austin Hays is the other one. We’ve got several guys who didn’t scrimmage today on offense. You saw that. We’ve got a number of guys who should be playing for us who were out with little nagging injuries who hopefully we’ll get back on Friday. But for the most part, he made a few plays for us today. He’s worked hard in the offseason – he was involved with our track program. He’s an experienced player. He’ll have to help us in the first game.”
“Well you’re on a place on the field where they can show up. As you have inexperience at the linebacker and the safety position, when you’re inside the 5-yard line, it makes it easier for those guys to play, and they’ll get better. There’s really no substitute for experience. That’s the first time a number of those guys on defense have been in a live drill.”
On the growing depth of linemen over the years:
“We used to divide our scholarships 41-41-3, our 85 scholarships. Three years ago we went 44-38-3, and we’ve pushed more scholarships on the defensive side of the ball. It’s a move that we felt like we had to make in order for us to have enough players on that side of the ball to give ourselves a chance to win the Big 12 Championship. The offense struggles a little bit, but we feel as if we can finesse and maneuver and use our schemes to make up for defense, where we feel like we really have to stop people athletically and with ability. Two of those extra slots have gone into the defensive line, and it’s been three years now, so those are our extra numbers. Ultimately it becomes a percentage game. You bring in a certain number of players – you miss on some, some they miss on us, but if you have more opportunities out there, you have a better chance of being an improved defense. That’s really the direction that we’ve moved in the last few years.”
On if the defense getting exposed is a learning experience:
“It is, but we’re also young out there. There were a number of years where we had Joe (Mitchell) and Shaun (Lewis) and those guys you know about. When you’re experienced on defense, they can overcome speed and they can overcome different tempos of offense and formations and movement. When you get in a game on that side of the ball, if you’re not real experienced, things that move around a little bit and you start paying attention to that, and then they snap the ball and you get out of your gap. We have to really pay attention as a coaching staff to that and put our players in positions to give them the best chance to have success early in the season.”
On Bob Connelly:
“It seems to be going really good. I like his demeanor, I like his ability to teach and coach. He’s very experienced. Believe it or not, when you hire a coach you never know exactly what you’re getting until you get him into your program. We do the best we can to try to bring people in that we think fit into our style. They mix in with the personality of our coaching staff. I’m interested in bringing in coaches that want to teach and coach the game and don’t want to scream and yell. I think he does a good job of that so far. It’s very early. I think the offensive line has adjusted, because what you said is correct, the other guy was here nine years, and they don’t know anybody else, but I think he’s done a nice job of mixing in with our staff, and I think the players respect his ability, and I like his work ethic. Only time will tell. He is now the guy who will lead the recruiting charge at that position. He’ll have an opportunity to bring in players that he thinks fit our style of play based on what he feels like he can develop over a period of time. I’m looking forward to the class of offensive linemen that he can bring in this fall, or I should say next February, because it will be a large class for us, at least four or five. It will be an important offensive line class for us.”
Offensive Coordinator Mike Yurcich
On the youth at receiver:
"Hats off to Coach Glass and the strength program, because you can see the obvious growth and change in those young men from a physical standpoint. Just as important as that, though, is their maturity and growth in their leadership qualities. They are emerging as leaders. That's really important and good to see."
On balancing Tyreek Hill at two different positions:
"The main thing you want to make sure of with Tyreek is that you hand the ball to him to the right and to the left. Sometimes that will be the balance. He helps us, no doubt about it. We have to maintain balance, regardless. If teams load up the box, we still have to throw it down the field."
On what he wants to see from the quarterbacks:
"Ball security. That's where it starts. Also, getting us into good plays or out of bad plays – making sure we have the advantage from a numbers standpoint and understanding the situation."
Running Backs Coach Jemal Singleton
On the running backs' progression this spring:
"We're halfway through the spring and some things are starting to shake out. It's great to have a bunch of guys who are working hard, particularly with Desmond Roland not participating in spring ball. This gives the young guys a chance to develop and get better."
On the explosiveness of Tyreek Hill:
"I think you just have to look at his track times and what he was able to do in such a short time, running in his first indoor meets. He's really explosive. He's one of the fastest guys in the country. Now we're seeing how that translates to the football field."
On Rennie Childs' performance so far this spring:
"I would say he isn't quite where he needs to be. I want to get more out of him. It's tough for a young guy like him, who comes in and has success right away because he doesn't get the bumps and bruises of being thrown onto the scout team. That's where he needs to improve – to get tougher and be able to tax his body. He needs to pick that up, mentally."
Receiver Jhajuan Seales
On spring practice so far:
“It's been great. We've been moving with the fast tempo we want to see, and the defense has been giving us great looks. We've been getting after each other every day.”
On the progression of the young receivers:
“We have a lot of new guys stepping up and making plays. Tyreek [Hill] is a great running back/receiver we have. He's pretty fast and moves the ball really well. Blake Webb is coming back from injury and made same plays today. C.J. Curry made some plays today, too. A bunch of guys are doing well.”
On what he has seen from the quarterbacks:
“We have great quarterbacks. Obviously J.W. [Walsh] is a great leader. Daxx [Garman] and Mason [Rudolph] have been awesome, too. No matter who is back there, we will be in good hands.”
Receiver Blake Webb
On splitting time between football and track and field:
"I wouldn't say it was hard to come back to football from track, but it was hard to transition from football to track, trying to get into track shape. I had not run track since high school, and when you run against people like Tyreek, it's hard to do if you haven't in a while. It's been easier to come back to football just because I feel faster and more mobile. I feel like I've been moving around well."
On his decision to compete in both sports:
"When I decided to not run track my senior year of high school, it was really hard because I wasn't that highly recruited in football. When the track coaches presented me the opportunity here, I jumped all over it because I knew it would help me stay in shape and help me with my speed."
On returning from injury:
"I'm a lot faster now than I was before the injury, and a lot of it had to do with running track. The football guys who did track would work out with the football team, go to class, get lunch, watch film, go straight to track practice and then come back for team dinner. By the time that was over, we were going to sleep and getting ready to do it all again. It helped me so much with my speed."
Defensive Coordinator Glenn Spencer
On the defense performance at the scrimmage:
“I didn’t like it. We will find out more tomorrow. There will be some things that stand out that were good, but overall we are not very good right now.”
On all the new players:
“We are playing with a bunch of guys who haven’t been here. We have a lot of quality walk-on guys in the two-deep rotation right now that I love. I went over after practice and told them how much we appreciate what they are doing for us. I told the guys on scholarship though that they need to make a decision of being mentally tough and wanting to be really good and if they don’t then we are going to have issues. We’ve got to work on the little things in these next practices.”
Defensive Tackle James Castleman
On today’s practice:
“We were going fast today because we were trying to keep up with our offense. Right now we are really trying to focus on knowing the plays and focusing on our technique.”
On overcoming depth issues:
“We are hurting right now without all those guys out here with us, because we play as a family on this team. The young guys are starting to pick it up and learning what to do though.”
On younger players standing out:
“They are all really standing out to me. Vincent Taylor and Ben Hughes have really been improving. Taylor has just been getting better and better with every practice and Ben is just a big boy who is hard to get out of the way.”
Cornerback Kevin Peterson
On being a leader on this team:
“I’m not really a vocal guy so I try to lead by example, but with the way we are playing right now I feel like I have had to step up and become more of a vocal leader for this team.”
On goals for the rest of the spring practices:
“I really want us to cut down on our mental mistakes. We are all good enough athletes to play with anyone in the nation, but cutting down on our mental errors is what is going to make us better.”
Defensive End Jimmy Bean
On today’s practice
“I believe it was a good stepping-stone to see where we are as a defensive whole.”
On the younger players
“Guys like Jordan Sterns and Tre Flowers have been doing a really good job of stepping up for us.”