April 3, 2013
STILLWATER, Okla. - The Oklahoma State football team held a 115-play scrimmage in the rain Wednesday in Boone Pickens Stadium. Prior to the scrimmage, coach Mike Gundy and several members of the team visited with the media. Their comments:
Coach Mike Gundy
On transitioning players to a different position:
"First thing I visit about is, "Why?" I talk to the coaches from whatever side of the ball, and if they feel like it's a move that they approve or validate it then we'll move forward and give it a shot. That's how the process went through with Lyndell Johnson."
On what he looks for in hiring coaches:
"I think stability is a strength, but I think there's also some positives with new blood and ideas. One of the areas I look at when hiring coaches is what can he bring to the staff, not just his position or just one side of the football. For example, with Job Bob Clements, what can he bring to the staff that he and Coach Bill Snyder did and so on. I think at times it's good to have some new guys."
On defensive line coach Joe Bob Clements:
"He's very enthusiastic - an intelligent football coach. He has a great relationship with his players and K-State has always traditionally played better than what they have based on their personnel, which is a compliment. We try to bring guys in who will get their guys to overachieve."
On the quarterbacks:
"Clint Chelf is our starter, he takes all the reps with the ones right now. The other guys compete out there, but I don't necessarily feel like there's a battle out there to start in the first game. I think with the way that he performed and the way J.W. Walsh performed in certain situations, it's their job to lose with whatever situation it is on the field. Wes Lunt continues to get better, and Daxx Garman gets reps for us. We're in an unusual situation and I'm not sure we have all the answers or the right way to handle it but we do get a lot of reps in practice and they're getting quality work."
On Lunt's attitude:
"They're all good kids, and most of the guys that are on this team are good kids. These guys are quality guys and Wes is the same way. It's not easy to be put in a situation where you have to compete as a true freshman, especially at the quarterback position and especially from a team that just came off a BCS bowl win. And being magnified with the type of success we've had over the last four or five years, so he's been impressive with the way he's handled himself."
On Clint Chelf:
"Clint is very experienced from years, but he's really only played in about seven or eight games. We're really excited about him improving each day because the strength of our offense is based on our quarterback. We don't have very many plays and our scheme stays the same. Our offense moves very fast and we try to get the ball in the players' hands."
On the tempo of the offense:
"Mike Yurcich's philosophy is speed. When I studied potential coordinator candidates on tape and studied Shippensburg on video, I noticed the majority of the time when they got a first down, the ball was snapped before the chains were set. I don't know what type of chain gangs they have in that league, not to knock that league, but they must have been moving pretty fast for that to happen. So, I would say the speed of our offense has increased this spring. I looked at several potential candidates and thought they fit what we were looking for, but I didn't think they played fast enough. I'm not sure that's something you can teach, but something you call and feel. We wanted to bring a guy in here that understood our offense."
On transition between offensive coordinators:
"It really runs itself. We have a set of plays and our quarterbacks run the system. They do it on their own. We just feed them the information and they execute. The transition works pretty smooth. When I got into it for the bowl game, I had two weeks to pick the system and learn it enough to call plays, it's not really that hard. I think the transition has been smooth and I think it will continue to get better as Mike gets adjusted to it and the speed of our players."
On having high-quality quarterbacks:
"We're blessed to have these guys and we're lucky that we have them here and they're all good kids. It's difficult to play that position and we're in some uncharted waters based on reps and how we distribute reps. I'm not sure we have all the answers because we have the responsibility to get them all ready to play because they've certainly proven they are good enough to compete in our conference. So we do the best we can to make sure they are ready to play and to make sure our team is ready to play and give them the best chance to win."
On quarterback play in the Big 12:
"It's strange, we've gone over a stretch of three or four years where quarterback play has been tremendous. We have three or four guys playing in the NFL right now and there were some good ones last year that aren't in the NFL but were tremendous college players. I think the one thing that's most impressive to our staff is that we're lucky to have good kids. They don't come and sit in my office and complain about getting starting time because we don't really have those answers right now. It's simple when you look on paper, you have a quarterback playing really well until he went out, then we have another one that played well statistically until he went out and we put another one in and he played and then he went out and put another one in and he played well. It's really unusual that you have that many guys that played well, got injured, got healthy and then couldn't necessarily get back in the game because the others were playing well."
On if the team had to play the first game today:
"I feel good about our football team, I feel good about our program and I've said that the last two or three years, we're pretty far along as a football team right now. We're going to play two groups in our scrimmages and practices that function pretty well. That's not always easy to do in the spring when you're down 25 guys. We have some guys right now that haven't played at all and they may rotate in. There's strength in the depth, maturity and experience of our football team. We certainly have a lot of work ahead of us and our defense is getting adjusted to the new scheme, principles and thought process and that takes time. We're going to be as competitive as anyone in the country. I don't know that there is anyone out there that if we didn't play well and take care of the football that we couldn't beat. That's our goal at the end of the day."
Defensive Line Coach Joe Bob Clements
On practice so far:
"I think it's gone well. We have an eager group of guys, and I've enjoyed the intensity of practice, and the violence with which we get after it. My guys have done well thus far."
On working with inexperienced players:
"To me, that's the most fun part. It's challenging, in a sense, where they're going to make mistakes quite a bit, but it's enjoyable when you see them correct those mistakes they've made. You watch them do it wrong one day, or one snap, and then the next snap you watch them do it right. I get satisfaction out of that."
On Freshman DE Trace Clark:
"He's doing well. Trace is a lot more mature than what you might find in a lot of guys their freshman year. He played a little bit this past fall so he'll be going in as a sophomore. He's probably more mature than your average freshman, because he played the game for so long with his father [Steve Clark, former Kansas State & New England Patriots DE] and his brother [Zac Clark, former Oregon DT]. He's done really well for us right now."
On junior college transfer DE Sam Wren:
"Sam's doing well. I had a talk with Sam today. If we had to play this Saturday, I don't think we'd be ready. But we're making progress to get him there. The importance from now, for the rest of spring ball, is that you continue that process so that when spring ball is over, I can look at him and he can look at me and we can say he's ready."
Receiver Josh Stewart
On how spring practice is going:
"Spring's gone really well. We have a lot of talent everywhere on the team. We have a lot of speed. We're working right now as an offense to be real physical and move fast and just change the tempo of our game. We're just working hard and trying to get better as a team."
On speeding up the offense's tempo:
"We're real quick. We're doing a lot of things as fast as we can and as fast as possible. We're trying to line up and get the plays going and not give the defense a lot of time to react and do what they want to do."
How upping the tempo will benefit the receivers:
"Usually when you're running plays faster it's harder for a defense to see where players are on the field and it opens up a lot of opportunities for the receivers to be open."
On the team's ultimate goal:
"Our goal is to win the Big 12 Championship and take it all the way. We're just going to take it game-by-game and see where we go."
Defensive Tackle Calvin Barnett
On Joe Bob Clements:
"He's getting after us. It's good. I wouldn't say we were a mediocre d-line, but obviously we weren't the greatest as a unit. Any coach that wouldn't accept that is what we need."
On changes Clements has made:
"He makes sure everything from a small step to a small hand placement or something really small that last year we didn't realize was important, now it's magnified. The little things are magnified. It makes us focus more and keep our shoulders square."
On competing for a starting spot again:
"I don't want to get too comfortable. If I stayed the same, my performance would decrease. I have to work hard and earn my spot, which is a good thing for me and my line to turn the level of competition up again."
Quarterback Clint Chelf
On the struggles of simultaneously being a starting quarterback and a college student:
"Time management is definitely the biggest issue. We have practice here from around one to six, with classes in the morning. If we have tests or have to write papers, that's all done in the mornings. The guys in the Academic Center do a great job with us, especially with managing our time. That's one of the main things that I try to tell the younger guys, is that they have to manage their time well and not waste any of it."
On what he does to successfully manage his time as a student athlete:
"I have learned to be resourceful. If I have an hour to study, I have to take advantage of it. When I was an undergrad, we didn't have any time to get any studying done during the day, so we had to take advantage of our time at night. Being resourceful is probably the biggest key to managing my time."
On how his play on the football field translates into classwork:
"There are definitely times when you struggle in practice or struggle on the field that are pretty similar to struggling in the classroom. It's luckily one of those things where we have the Academic Center to help us out and get us back on track if we ever get behind in the classroom. I've been fortunate to be able to get ahead with my academics, but there are definitely times when my time on the field is similar to being in class."
On how he is preparing for a career if football is not an option:
"You always kind of have to keep an open mind. Like I said, I have been able to get a majority of my academic career behind me, so right now I'm focused on the team. I'm extremely grateful for what I've learned here at OSU through my degree, though, and I'm extremely proud to be a student-athlete here."
Quarterback J.W. Walsh
On how the spring is going:
"It's going really well. We've got a lot of work in so far and the reps we've got in have been really good reps. I think that as an offense we are now starting to click really well."
On the transition to Mike Yurcich:
"I think the transition has gone really well. With the way he coaches and his philosophy we realized that he's a great coach and has some great things for us on offense and we're really excited."
On the difference between Yurcich and Monken:
"Some of his philosophy is different and his play-calling is a little different. His temperament is a lot different. He's all about tempo and going a lot faster. He keeps his cool. It's two different coaches and two different styles. It's all about transition and starting to figure out how to adapt to coach Yurcich."
Running Back Jeremy Smith
On thriving in the spotlight:
"When it's time to grind, you have to grind. Each week you have to choose how you want to go about that game, and that's just pretty much how I go about it. You've got to pick the intensity up every week, and that's what I did. You want to be that go-to guy that they can rely on, and that's the kind of guy I want to be."
On playing so close to his hometown, Tulsa:
"It's a good thing. I have family at all the games, even when we travel. The whole fan base is still here, and it's great."
On his spring performance so far:
"Spring time is pretty much a huge mental thing for me, to make sure I get everything down pat. You want to get a feel for the guys, and get those mental reps in, and make sure they're good to go and I'm good to go."
On the competitiveness of the game:
"Every day is always a competition. You can lose your job in a matter of minutes and days. That's why you always have to work hard and set goals."
Safety Lyndell Johnson
On the heated competition of spring practice:
"Coaches want the competition because it brings out the best in everybody. Day in and day out, coaches know when you're taking plays off and you're not going hard. There's always someone either in front of you or right behind you, so it pushes you to have the mindset of going hard every day. Competition is just fun. It makes you work hard."
On the adjustments of moving from linebacker to safety:
"We actually just talked about this yesterday. The coaches have been telling us that we need to concentrate as hard as we can on what we're working on. It's a big move back, though. At safety, compared to linebacker, you have to cover so much more space. It's more man-to-man coverage, you're deep and you're not as close to the line as before. When you're back at safety, it's really more about technique, having confidence and believing in yourself. I just have to believe in my speed and concentrate."
Linebacker Shaun Lewis
On the mentality of the linebackers in spring practice:
"It's going well. It's easier to smile when everybody is doing what they're supposed to be doing, though. It takes the stress off of those other 10 guys when every one guy is doing what he needs to do. There's a lot more of that going on, as well as everybody rallying to the ball and having fun."
On the tendency to give up big plays last year:
"We're trying to eliminate giving up big plays, period. We don't want to give up big plays and we don't want to give up first downs. I think the way to do that is to be aggressive. When they're trying to get those big plays, we need to get pressure on the quarterback. Either way, we're working together to find ways to eliminate those big plays."
On finishing tackles:
"It is hard for someone like me because I'm in the open field so much. It's hard to square up on a guy in the open field, but it makes us better when we work on it. It definitely challenges us."
Quarterback Wes Lunt
On returning from his first injury:
"Games are a lot different from practice, obviously. I just had to have the confidence in my knee and in my foot, so that's what, in the first and second half, kept me comfortable."
On the K-State game last season:
"It was awesome, it was on national television. Kirk Herbstreit was calling the game, and growing up as a kid you never thought he would be broadcasting your games. It was definitely surreal, but the crowd didn't really get to me. Wherever the game is played, it's still football, but it was an amazing atmosphere."
On his experience from his first season
"As a freshman, you know you're going to have ups and downs, everyone does it. Coming in and playing right out of high school I was expecting that some, but the people all around me continued to give me support, which was incredible."