The Rundown: Everything Gundy Said after First Practice in Full Pads

STILLWATER — The Cowboys are in Day 6 of their fall camp, but Thursday was the Pokes’ first day in full pads.

After the festivities, Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy met with reporters in the Sherman Smith Training Center, where he got a birthday surprise from a few of his players. Below is Gundy’s full media session in video and written form.

Opening statement

“We’re obviously finished with however many practices this is — six or seven, I’m not sure. Doing really well with the guys that are out there. We’re in the same scenario where we were in the spring with the total number of reps — getting a lot of reps. It’s really good. Guys are excited; we’re excited. Got a long ways to go, but we’re getting a little bit better each day. “

On if there is more pressure to perform this year because of looming conference realignment talk

“I think we’re in a great position. We’ve been Top 10 in the country in the last decade. We got a ton of views across the country. I haven’t thought about it that way, but that’s one thing I don’t have to concern myself with. Somebody else has to make those decisions. I haven’t heard anything from the players. We’re just gonna stay the course.”

On playing as an underdog instead of a front-runner

“I mean that’s always easiest way to play. The good news is this, we’ve talked about this for years, in my opinion they shouldn’t even have a poll until Oct. 1, based on everybody’s just projecting what somebody thinks. It’s fun, gives people something to talk about, but until we’ve all played three or four games we really don’t know who we are where we stand, including us based on players that’ll have to compete 30 or 40 plays in the game that may have not played in the past. You know a lot more about yourself come Oct. 1.”

On Taylor Miterko and Caleb Etienne competing to start at left tackle

“Competition is a driving force. When you have that at any particular position and you have two or three players that are hungry and it’s important to them, it essentially takes care of itself. Complacency with knowing I’m the guy at a certain position at times can create issues for that person and your team. Competition is really good. Each one of them gets better every day. There’s a chance we need both of them. If both are good enough to play, at a level to help us win games, we can rotate them and keep them fresh. That’d be a bonus.”

On if recruiting has changed since the conference realignment ordeal started taking place

“No, it hasn’t changed for us. Everything has been the same for us. I mean, we’ve had meetings and discussions, but we haven’t really gotten to a point where it’s changed.

“I’m just going on what people tell me, which is everybody guessing the league is intact for X number of years. It’s really too far down the line for me to think about. Now, if something would have drastically changed quickly, then we would start to come up with a plan.”

On Tay Martin maturing through the offseason

“Well he’s been mature for three months — I should say that. He was really good in winter conditioning. Then in these last three months with June July and so in August, he’s been very mature. He’s going to give himself a chance to perform at a high level and make some money playing this game, if you can stay focused and stay the course over the next four months. That gives him the best chance. But yes, he is considerably better than he was this time last year because it’s finally in good physical condition.

“He was not in shape in conditioning played our offense last year until the bowl game.”

On depth at running back and receiver

“I don’t think there’s any question we have quality depth past what we’ve had years back at running back. I think I’m fairly certain about that. We have young and inexperienced staff and wide out that a year from now we’ll be talking about trying to get guys reps. I like both positions, but the running backs are more mature than the wide outs are at this time.”

On Dominic Richardson

“He’s a year into it. He was like most freshmen, he was trying to find his way through. We played him in some games last year toward the end of the season, and he played pretty well, but he went through August, September, October, I think it was November. So he was three more months into it. Just the reps they get out here, helps them develop. Chuba didn’t practice much last year. There were times LD was beat up, so Dominic was getting a lot of practice time with the ones and twos, and that’s where guys get better.”

On how he has seen the Cowboy back position outside of Logan Carter develop this fall

“That’s one of the areas that we’re focusing on as we speak in trying to develop or see who’s gonna develop into being that two and then move forward with the new guy. Austin [Jarrard] just got here a couple weeks ago, so his head’s spinning. How long will that take place until he can somewhat solidify himself comfortably where he can compete and not think by playing fast. That is something that we’re talking about now, in how we’re shaping our game plan to make sure those guys are comfortable.”

On OSU’s starting safeties: Kolby Harvell-Peel, Tre Sterling and Tanner McCalister

“They’re all like a backcourt of basketball, guys who work well together and understand different things. The experience they have gives them a lot of flexibility in disguise coverage and different names Coach Knowles would like to get accomplished. That position is somewhat like playing quarterback. I’m gonna say to that extreme, but somewhat like play quarterback because it has so many different keys and things that are going on in your head, and then you have to be able to support run some time but then also defend versus the deep ball, which is a big threat in this league.”

On Brendon Evers

“He’s had his best summer ever. saw him in the weight room every day, even on off days, working on flexibility. He’s very mature. He’s been around a long time. His attitude’s great. I think he’s had his best summer, and in most cases, you’ll see that in the fall.”

On Devin Harper

“Obviously he’s in there. He’s getting a lot of reps right now. His experience brings a lot. These guys that have been around a long time, they’re naturally better just from being out here. When you have players that have been, like this year across the country teams that have a high percentage or a big number of what we call super seniors, it’s a big advantage for those schools because they have X number of free players on their roster that have five years of experience, and he’s one of those for us.”

On Tracin Wallace being a student assistant coach

“He’s been with us a couple years or so in that role, and he wants to coach. It’s an awesome internship. We put a lot on him. He’s gonna continue to get better and better. As he develops through this program, you’ll be able to get a start somewhere. Being in our offense and learning our offense and understanding what we do and why we do it is a big advantage for him as he markets himself for a job in another school.

“He does a lot of grunt work. He does a lot of paperwork, a lot of write ups, a lot of computer work, running copies. Coach [Kasey] Dunn, as does Coach [Jim] Knowles], they have a group of young coaches, as I call them, that have responsibilities all throughout the day. They put a lot on them. Those guys have to fulfill all those different things throughout the day to get ready for video, to be ready for tomorrow’s practice, make sure that we’re prepared not only by coaches and players with the setup of drills and just everything out here on the field. They have a lot of work on a daily basis.”

On if this group is further along than teams he has coached in the past

“What’s happened is, what we wanted to happen was now you’ll get two or three players a day that miss a day with a hamstring being tight or an ankle or whatever it might be. So, the guy that’s working with the twos moves to the ones, so the guy has been working with the threes moves to the twos, and then the twos don’t slow down now because the guy that’s had all the reps, he can move into that role, and we can function as a unit. So what happens is when you have a couple of guys that get banged up, and then you throw young players in with the twos, if they can’t function, then all 22 guys on both sides of the ball struggle because of what they’re doing. Now I’m seeing these guys move up, and we’re still practicing at a really good pace. I’m not saying they’re ready to step into a game and play, what I’m saying they’re ready to do is function in practice, and they’re much further along.

“Another thing I’m seeing is the attitude and body language of the young players that are here that are getting just as many reps as the ones, their attitude and body language is better than what it’s traditionally been because they’re not just standing around. They’re out there getting work. They see themselves make mistakes. They get coach on the film by their coaches, and they come back out. There’s a little bit of excitement there. I’m sure their calling their mom and dad, saying, ‘Hey, I’m practicing. I mean, I’m actually doing it.’ So that’s pretty cool.”

On Braydon Johnson moving to the slot

“He’s a slot receiver. We’ve had to bounce him around a little bit at times with injury but that’s his strength. He’s extremely fast, we all know that, and he’s very shifty. And he’s got enough strength to where he can block inside on nickel backs and safeties and such. That’s his spot. We’re expecting him to have a good year. He’s in good shape, and he’s very focused at this time. So if he’ll just stay the course, he should have a good year. If he stays healthy, and he’ll get a chance to play this game to the next level, all based on his work ethic from this point moving forward.”

On adding some more zone coverages to the defense

“Well we ran some last year, and we’ll run some this year, based on who we play. We’re gonna try to play our strength against what we think is their strength. The defensive side of it is how much do you blitz, how much you play zone — different areas like that. We have to be prepared so when we face a team that’s really, really skilled on the perimeter. It’s really difficult to play man coverage against really good players. If you’re a DB and I’m a wide out and our talent level is the same, I should win most of the battles because I know where I’m going and you don’t. If we get in that situation, we have to be able to play zone at times and try to minimize big plays.”

On if the team’s vaccination percentage has changed from the 83% most recently reported

“Not that I know of. I think we’re at 83%. We had an outside source come in and talk to our team and that way they know if they want to get vaccinated, we can get them over to the health center and get it taken care of, but they have not given me any information on any new vaccinations since that.

“I want to get as many players vaccinated as we can get to protect the team and other people. As I said, we will have a percentage that can’t get it based on a prior health condition. So, we will not be at 100%. In fact, I think that the most we can be at 94. And that’s just one of those issues that everybody has a right to their own opinion. I’ll say it again, we want to educate them and give them quality information and then allow them to make a decision based on what they think is best for them, their family, friends and our team.”

On the team surprising him with a birthday cake

“They like to give me a hard time. I’m an age you don’t really report birthdays any more. I was telling a couple of the young girls that are out there videoing. It’s been … 41 years since I’ve actually had a birthday that I wouldn’t have a practice. Started in seventh grade which starts seventh-grade football. So, it’s been 41 years, which I guess is a good thing. But, you kind of like those slide to slide on by. Once you have to get up twice in the night to go to the bathroom, you’ll understand that.

“German chocolate cake is my favorite, and then I have a bad habit of I’ll eat anything. There’s not so much that I won’t eat. Now, I do not eat sushi, but anything else — you know, you get in the car with kids back in the day when the kids are home, and you ask them where do you want to go, which is a bad mistake because then they argue about where you want to go. Shouldn’t ask them. Wherever anybody goes, I don’t care, I can eat. I eat food I like to eat food.”

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