STILLWATER - The Oklahoma State football team practiced in full pads Monday on the grass fields adjacent to Gallagher-Iba Arena. After the approximately two-hour session, coach Mike Gundy spoke about the mental aspect of the game and how the team is responding. He also shared his pick for the NCAA men's basketball title game between Michigan and Louisville:
On Monday's Practice:
"We had a really good practice today. We cut it down just a little bit as the spring has gone on - a few guys out with some bumps and bruises, so we trim our reps down a little bit. Our enthusiasm was good, the effort was good. I thought the secondary and the defense was really good today. They competed. They're going to make our wide receivers better by challenging them and being a lot closer to them and forcing them to make really good catches with their hands. I thought that the offensive line played well today and all the quarterbacks played well. We had a good day overall."
On the importance of the mental aspect of the game and if it shows up more during the spring than during the fall:
"The mental aspect shows up every day - practice, games, spring, fall. Football has become so much more cerebral over the last few years. It happens really fast. Offenses play fast, defenses give you more looks. We talk about that as a team. We have to really do a good job of getting quality mental reps even though we can only get so many physical reps based on how much our body can take during whatever time of the year it is."
On if the coaches can effectively practice things like clock management and two-minute drill during the spring:
"We have drills set up for clock management, two-minute and four-minute drills. We try to put our players in game situations that they'll be in in the fall. I don't think you can ever spend enough time in situational scrimmage."
On how the players have performed mentally and if he's happy with the level at which they're operating in situational drills:
"I watch them function and it's hard to tell because you want both sides - if the defense does well, then you want the offense to do better, and that's the issue you have in spring. Overall, our players grade out very well in their mental approach."
On the mindset of the defense now that there is a more aggressive philosophy:
"They're buying in to the coaches' approach. As we scrimmage more and compete against each other, you're starting to see some of those areas come forward. Their attitude is good now and their willingness to learn has been great up to this point."
On who he's picking to win tonight's NCAA basketball title tonight:
"It's going to be hard to go against Louisville. Michigan is playing really well. Anybody could justify picking either team, but I like Louisville's defense and I like their point guard play. I know Michigan has the player of the year, but I like Peyton Siva - I like how he directs their offense. I would have to take Louisville if somebody pinned me down and said I had to take one."