STILLWATER — Mike Gundy’s Cowboys are 5-0 for the first time since 2015.
Gundy met with reporters after Oklahoma State’s 24-14 victory against Baylor on Saturday night. Here is everything he said.
“Alright guys, I apologize, we had Barry (Sanders) show up and just wanted to take him in there to meet the running backs. You know how he doesn’t like that stuff, but I made him do it anyway. Jaylen Warren looked like he met Santa Claus, you should have seen his face.
“Anyways, obviously a great win for us. We got away with another one. We were minus three in turnovers and it’s just extremely difficult to win a game when you’re minus two, minus one is not usually as big an issue percentage wise but to be minus three in the turnovers and still win, we’re pretty fortunate. We rushed the ball really well, but we still didn’t get to four yards of carry. Now we did lose a few with some victories, and obviously at the end of the game, but for the most part we’ve still got to get to 4, 4.1, 4.2 a carry for us to continue to have success rushing the ball.
“Our special teams coverage unit, which I mentioned to you guys Monday, [Trestan Ebner’s] a really good returner, we all know that. He’s dynamic. So we challenged our group to fix last week’s mistake, which was obviously giving up the return. And I thought we were fantastic in kick coverage and punt coverage, a big part of the game for us. And then obviously, the defense is playing good. I just don’t want to jinx them. They just keep playing good, and I hope that they can just continue on like that. I think the challenge to them will get greater each week. Texas seems to be moving the ball some and scoring some points, so that’ll be a good challenge for them on the road. But overall we need a break. We’ve been at it for eight weeks. Guys are tired, beat up, sore, so it’s good to finish. It’s good to be 5-0, proud of the guys the way they compete and just keep moving forward.”
On living with Spencer Sanders bad because of his good
“That was too much, OK, and he knows that. I’m not going to single him out, but if he were sitting here he would agree with me. He had some errant throws tonight, and it cost us a couple times. That one time he had a guy turn loose in his face. But still, it’s okay every now and then to go down and not force a throw. Easier said than done, I can say that because I’ve lived that life, but we just got to stay with him. We got to try to minimize those mistakes. And he misfired on some throws. There’s some other ones that we had that we could hit that he was a little high on tonight. I think, from a distance, that he’s not setting his feet. He’s got his feet spread like this and he’s on his heels, ball drives high, but we’ll look on tape. Coach (Tim) Rattay, they’ll work with him. We got to play better at that position than he did tonight, when it comes to turning the ball over. He still made a lot of plays running like he does right? He probably was for 60, 70, 80 yards or something like that. And he’s a dangerous player. But no, we have to minimize those mistakes.”
On turnovers being less hurtful in low-scoring games
“That’s correct, but I tell you what they do, they hurt your momentum. You know these games are unusual from what we’ve been doing for 15 years around here. And that is true, we had that discussion in the staff room. But it’s the momentum also, because you’re doing good and it’s now the other team, and now you give them life. All of a sudden you’re going to score, and now they get the ball. Or defensively, we turned the ball over and gave it to him twice, maybe inside the 40, or once inside the 30. We were fortunate tonight to pull that off. So guys keep playing well on defense, giving us a chance.”
On the defense holding after Sanders’ INTs
“I’m trying to adjust to that. I have a lot of confidence in them, and I’ve said that for a number of weeks for a variety of reasons, but it’s just hard to adjust to it, because we’ve been in so many shootouts. Everybody in this league has been in shootouts for 10 years. And so, to give him the ball 31 and 36 and have to punt, I don’t think anybody in this room would have said, if that was going to happen, they wouldn’t at least get a field goal. So we’ve just been very fortunate with their play at this time.”
On running 59 times
“I think that we might have gotten concerned with [Spencer Sanders] over firing some throws, I’ll just be honest with you. So, your question, no we did not plan on rushing it  times. I think that sometimes when you’re calling plays when you see things, they scare you, and then you’re in the game, and it’s almost what Berry [Tramel] said, the defense is playing really good, so let’s just make them win the game. Let’s not lose the game. And that happens sometimes. I’ve been in that position as a play caller.”
On if he thought about kicking a field goal on the late forth down inside Baylor’s 5-yard line
“Yeah, it crossed my mind, but you still can give yourself a chance to lose by one point. So, I would rather take a shot on getting that much — and we struggled on short-yardage (situations) tonight. They got [Siaki Ika] in there, and I talked to ya’ll about him on Monday, he’s a big man, you know what I’m saying. He’s hard to deal with, and it makes it difficult. So you got to get this much and then basically the game’s over. Worst case scenario, don’t get it, then they tie you with the field goal. If they score a touchdown, you’re in the same situation where if you kicked a field goal and they score a touchdown, see what I’m saying? And they got to go 99 yards, and they already burned all the timeouts. So we used 18 timeouts with no time expiring off the clock. That might be a record. But the point being is, sure, if you think about it, and then you look at the other side of it and you don’t feel like it’s worth it, because I don’t wanna lose by one point. And you could, you could lose by one point. So I do this to try to avoid losing by one point. It was just what I felt was best.”
On if he was surprised Baylor went for it on fourth down midway through the fourth quarter
“Well, the one was on the 37-yard line. That one surprised me, yes. I thought they were just gonna try and draw us offsides. Yes, that did surprise me.”
On what he liked about his defense
“They had their backs against the wall again, more than what they deserve. That’s happened to him several times this year. We talked a lot about their discipline and toughness, but also their focus and their attitude and body language. They really present a great body language and attitude and don’t worry about what happened. They just go out and play. We have a lot of the super seniors out there. We’re getting great leadership from (Tyler) Lacy, from (Devin Harper), from (Malcolm Rodriguez) from (Kolby Harvell-Peel) from (Tanner McCalister), (Jarrick Bernard-Converse), (Brendon Evers), (Christian Holmes is) giving us good leadership. Guys that are giving us good leadership, and there’s like eight of them on the field at once. That’s why they’re playing well.”
On Collin Oliver
“He’s gonna gain confidence each week. He’s playing too many plays for his age, just like (Jaylen Warren) got too many carries tonight. (Warren) had to be plus-30, I don’t know. He carried the ball a lot. That’s too many carries, but that’s where we ended up, not by design. (Oliver) doesn’t need that many plays yet, but we’re beat up at that spot. So, he’s got to play. So my concern, it becomes him being healthy, mentally and physically. He’s young, playing in there in the trenches, so on so forth. But he’s holding up OK.
“He’s gonna get to the quarterback a bunch in his career.”
On when they decided to use Tanner Brown at kicker
“That was last Sunday. So we wanted to give Alex (Hale) a break because we had an open date. We wanted him to work this week, work next week, work the next week and we’ll see where he’s at. We just took him out, let him go to work on skills, send him to the driving range, let him work. He’s got 20 days to to work on some things. We haven’t lost confidence in him, but we just felt like this would give him 20 days to work on his skill. Tanner did a good job kicking, and we felt comfortable enough to use him in the game.”
On if Alex Hale’s struggles are mental or physical
“I don’t think it’s metal. I really don’t. That kid is mentally tough. I don’t want to repeat myself, but it’s like you’re standing there and there’s water on the right of the fairway, so you’re like, ‘Whatever I do, I don’t want to get into the water.’ Then you hook it left in the trees instead of just hitting it down the middle. That’s kind of what it is with a kicker, and I think he’s kind of in that phase right now. That’s why we said, ‘Take 20 days and figure it out.’”
On having Justin Blackmon back
“We had a huge number of guys that showed up, and it was awesome. They had a get-together last night. I wish I could have gone with them, but I just can’t do that. But I know Chad Weiberg went and spent some time with them. It’s awesome to see Justin back. I know Coach Dunn talk to him. He said he was coming back, and he needs to come back. He was arguably the best receiver to ever play here. He was a fantastic player. For all those guys to come back is awesome, and our team performed well for them. I saw a number of them on Friday and then had communication with them, text message-wise. They wanted me to pass onto the team how proud they are of them. I didn’t know Barry (Sanders) was coming back. Maybe he thought he was on the 2011 team. It was awesome that he came back and spent some time in the locker room with the team. That’s pretty cool.”
On the defense giving up a few big plays
“We’re an aggressive defense, so there is some give and take there. They’re going to take shots at us. The next team we play is going to take shots, we know that. So, we have to do a good job defending them and disguising, mixing up. On the short yardage, the safety, that’s his gap, and he got run into by one of our own guys who got knocked into him, and so there’s nobody in the gap. Then on the deep ball, when you play as aggressive as we do sometimes it’s going to happen. They’re going to take enough shots. Kansas State took eight or nine, and tonight Baylor took at least six. We’ve given up a couple, so sometimes that’s going to happen.”
On Tay Martin
“He’s been good. He seems to be getting some strength back. He’s making his catches. He’s a threat. He’s able to stay in the game, plays a lot of plays, competes. He seems to be doing really well.”
On getting short passes out to Jaylen Warren and Brennan Presley
“When you don’t throw it as effective as you want to, then when you call plays, you start to get nervous. That’s just what happens. I’ve been in that situation before. We can do some things with Jaylen throwing the ball, but Jaylen needs to be running the ball. There’s some things we can do with Presley. We tried to. We overshot him a few times, and now you start to worry as a play caller, like I mentioned earlier. We’re fine. We have a chance to work out a couple times this week, rest some guys, get them back, come up with good plans. We’ll be fine. We just got out of sync a little bit, and then of course when we weren’t throwing ball as effective as we needed to, then it makes you a little nervous.”
On Tyren Irby
“He should be back out there practicing next week. He didn’t have any structural damage. He just had like a, not a hematoma. but a deep bruise. He’s working through it. I would be shocked if he’s not back out there in a week.”
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