STILLWATER – Oklahoma State football coach Mike Gundy and selected members of the team visited with the media on Monday in Boone Pickens Stadium. Their comments:
Coach Mike Gundy Opening statement “We had a good week of practice and open week. Players were off just like the last open week. We had practice last night and an off day today. We’re back at it this week. We’re just getting ready for the next game against TCU. TCU is a team that I don’t think their record exemplifies the type of team they are. They are playing real well on defense. They are trying to run the football and spread you out to throw it a little bit on offense so they have a good return game. We definitely have our work cut out for us. We need to have a good week of practice and our plans haven’t changed. We need to be as sound as possible in the kicking game and limit big plays on defense so we can take care of the ball on offense. We will work hard on that this week.”
On what he’s seen on film in regards to TCU’s success on defense “Their schemes haven’t changed. It’s like most teams in our league it stays the same but they’re in the right spot on defense. They’ve got some guys that can get to you in a four-man rush. Their linebackers understand gap responsibility. Their corners are good players, and their safeties are good tacklers.”
On TCU’s physical defense compared to OSU’s other opponents this season “Up to this point, they are as good of a defense and physical of a defense as anyone we have seen on tape up to this point.”
On the tempo in the Kansas State game “We lost three receivers for the last game so it limited our ability to play fast. There are times in a game where we can move really quick then based on matchups and what we think gives us the best chance to score points. It varies some from week to week.”
On J.W. Walsh’s performances this season compared to last season “He’s very similar. He obviously knows more about our offense. His playing has been similar to what it was last year. He handles what comes with being a quarterback very well.”
On playing quarterback “I think anytime that you’re a quarterback you get a lot of credit when you’re winning and playing well. If you’re not playing as well as some people think you should then you get too much of the blame.”
On the upsets in the Big 12 “Spread offenses, quarterback play and nine game schedules is the reason. The future for the coaches is a nightmare but for the media and people who like to watch college football it’s going to be a heck of a deal. Conference play is going to be a battle each week in most cases in my opinion no matter who is playing. Unless you have an NFL type quarterback playing for you then you’re susceptible each week. I think it’s all across the country not just in this conference.”
On Ben Grogan and his performance last game “He continued to work hard and kicked well in practices. He seems to be stable mentally. At times with a freshman at any position, especially one who is out there on his own as a field goal kicker, you might worry about that but he has handled himself very well up to this point.”
Offensive Coordinator Mike Yurcich On the offense’s progression in regards to tempo “We have to make sure we’re getting quality reps on every snap. We want to be sound on our assignments and make sure we know where we’re going and know the adjustments we have to make based on the defense. At times, we need to take our foot off the gas in regards to tempo to do that. We’re working hard on it, and our guys know it’s part of our identity, so we don’t want to lose that. We want to continue to progress and be fast on offense.”
On whether the team accomplished what he wanted during the bye week “Yes. We got back to the fundamentals and the basics. We got back to our base schemes and ball security. We’re continuing to work to get better at those things.”
On the physicality of TCU’s defense “Well, I expect every team to be physical, but I think TCU is very physical. From a talent standpoint, from their front four to their front seven to their safeties, playing aggressively in the box, they want to tighten you down and want to stop the run. From a physical standpoint, it will be one of our toughest battles all season.”
Defensive Coordinator Glenn Spencer On where Trevone Boykin has improved since last year “We got after him pretty good last year, and he was kind of new to his role at the time. Now, I think it’s been a smoother transition for him this year after their starter was hurt before the season. They know what he does well, and I think they’ve built on that. I think we’ll see a lot of similar things this time. They’ve got new wrinkles, but he’s been able to make the throws and put pressure on the defense with the run.”
On what it takes to create turnovers “I don’t think it’s a secret. I think any coach in America would tell you being where you’re supposed to be is important. If you’re in a defense with more zone and people have their eyes on the quarterback, it’s about knowing where the ball is going and breaking on it. It’s fundamental football that gets you closer to those opportunities. If the ball comes out, then people are there to get it. A lot of people teach that, though. I think good players just seem to be around the football more often.”
On how a mobile quarterback affects what a team does on defense “You have to mix it up. The offense has the answers, so you have to have something to go to. You can’t just do one thing effectively all game, because the offense will figure out how to attack it. You have to try to stay a step ahead on defense. Without overloading them, you have to give your guys enough weapons to be successful.”
Cornerbacks Coach Van Malone On Justin Gilbert’s competitive drive “When you talk to our defense and they know TCU’s defense is on the other side, we know they’re a good defense and we have to outplay them. With Justin, especially this week’s challenge, he understands TCU has a really good secondary, and all eyes will be on them. So, in practice and in the game, he will be trying to make a name for himself on the field, too.
On trying to cover receivers against a quarterback who can extend plays “Even during the bye week, we talked to our guys about understanding their job. When they’re in coverage, their attention, especially in man coverage, has to be on the receiver. When in man coverage, they have to understand there is a linebacker or defensive end whose job is to contain the quarterback. When I see a defensive back break out of coverage to tackle the quarterback, I always wonder how he was able to see the quarterback break contain while paying attention to his man. We always have someone responsible for the quarterback. When the defensive back is sure the quarterback is crossing the line of scrimmage, then go get him.”
On the problems TCU’s skill players present “Any time an offense takes a good player and puts him in different positions, it makes it difficult for the defense to hone in on how to attack. They do a great job of that, especially with Brandon Carter. It makes it tough on the corners, safeties and linebackers, because when they see him line up as one of the best receivers in the Big 12, you have to make sure you know your job. But, you can’t just circle him, because they have a group of talented skill players that can hurt you. It is tough on the inside defenders, because they don’t always go up against guys like that, but our corners welcome the challenge.”
Offensive Lineman Parker Graham On what makes TCU's defense so affective "From one end of the defense to the other end, they're just really good. They play hard and don't allow too many gaps, so it's our jobs to get them out of position and get us some yards. You look at their numbers, and they've been sacking a lot of people. They're all big, strong and athletic, and they're going to play as hard as they can. We beat them here last year, but they're going to be ready to go when they come up here on Saturday."
On if he paid attention to football on his off weekend "Oh yeah, definitely. Whenever you get those bye weeks, it's kind of nice to just sit back and relax and enjoy watching college football that week instead of playing it. We kept up with all the conference games and kept up with what was going on, but it was a great time off."
On his thoughts about how the Big 12 will play out "There are a lot of teams with one loss, so we kind of control our own destiny right now. We're just going to take it week by week, play as hard as we can and see what happens."
Running Back Jeremy Smith On the strength of the TCU defense "They fly around. They play relentless football. Whoever has the ball, they get after them. They play sound ball, and I think it makes them pretty good. I like their interior guys. Each week, it's about how we prepare for the game. Not taking anything away from them, but if we go out there and take care of business, anything is possible."
On if the team worked on any specific things during the bye week "Actually, we did something different this bye week. We did a lot of one-on-one's, just to keep our minds straight and keep our speed going, which I think was a great idea. We really didn't take a week off because we're still competing against each other. Coach Gundy and all of the coordinators have been doing a really great job, so it's really up to us to stay focused and keep going week by week."
On the status of the running game "I think we're getting better each and every week. We had one setback, but we make running the ball a big emphasis every week because it opens up a lot of opportunities for us."
Wide Receiver Josh Stewart On returning to the field "I'm just trying to get back to my ways. Getting back at punt return and focusing on catching the balls and seeing where the people are coming at me. Judgment is a big thing as well as my effort in practice. If I feel lazy and stuff, then I know that something's not right. But that hasn't been the case lately. I am feeling good and am getting back to my ways and am ready for this week."
On what he learned from watching Big 12 competition this weekend "I watched the OU game, the Texas Tech game and the Kansas State versus Baylor game. The Big 12 is evenly matched. You can win everywhere. We're excited and we're ready to go because last week shows you that anybody can get beat at any time in the Big 12."
Safety Daytawion Lowe On who the defense is preparing for against TCU “They have a talented quarterback; a very versatile quarterback. He can run the ball and get it to his targets. They have a good number of running backs; a good number of threats. We have a lot of people we have to worry about.”
On defending against a mobile quarterback "We have to get on him fast, getting a lot of pressure on him. We have to make him make quick decisions and get the ball out of his hands."
On playing a team with as a good a defense as TCU’s "Well our main goal is to outplay the other team's defense. It's going to be tough for us this week."
Defensive Tackle James Castleman On the bye week and preparation for TCU "I think it helps us a lot. We get the chance to calm down and rest a little bit, get under our legs and prepare a little bit for the next team on the schedule."
On containing TCU's offense "We just need to play the run like we've been playing it all season and contain the quarterback. We can't let him get a good free scramble out, so we need to contain that. We have to let our linebackers do what they have to do and the corners do what they do."
Linebacker Shaun Lewis On TCU quarterback Trevone Boykin "[Kansas State’s Daniel Sams] from last week helped us prepare for Boykin this week. It's a similar type athlete with the way they can run and spread the field. It's going to be interesting to see how we stack up against Boykin this week."
On stopping TCU's backfield "The philosophy of our defense is that we always want to make our opponent one dimensional, so we look to stop the run early on and we want to make them beat us by throwing the ball."
On forcing turnovers "That's the key thing for our defense. We want to go out, force turnovers and give our offense the ball. Whatever we can do – strip the ball, intercept the ball – to get the ball back in our offense's hands."
Wide Receiver Jhajuan Seales On his biggest adjustment playing college football “The speed of the game. From high school, the speed wasn’t as fast and there wasn’t much of a tempo. So, that’s what I had to adjust to.”
On the TCU defense “They play a lot of off-coverage and stuff like that. We have to figure out which plays to run against that. They’re a pretty good team, and we don’t take any teams for granted. We have to go out there, practice hard and get ready to play the game.”
On homecoming “Last year, I was here for homecoming. It was a great feeling. The crowd was pumped, and it showed how much the fans really love Oklahoma State football.”