The Rundown: Everything Mike Gundy Said in his Pre-TCU News Conference

STILLWATER — Days after advancing to 5-0 on the season, Mike Gundy spoke with reporters for more than 40 minutes at his weekly media luncheon. He hit on everything from TCU to him interviewing with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers way back in 2012.

Here is a rundown of what he said.


Opening statement

“We had a good workout yesterday. Finished up on the (Texas) Tech game and got started a little bit on TCU. Got the guys out a little bit last night. So, normal Monday. Players are off and coaches are working, trying to get ready to have a good week of practice to get ready for the next one.”

On his familiarity with TCU coach Sonny Dykes

“None, just from a distance. Obviously I’ve watched them from a distance, but I haven’t crossed paths with him much in recruiting or such. But he’s done well. They’re playing really, really good. Obviously did a good job at SMU, but don’t know a lot about him personally.”

On whether it helps the Oklahoma State offensive coaches that they have faced TCU defensive coordinator Joe Gillespie in recent years

“It’s the same for them though. He’s going to feel like he has a good concept of us in his approach. Obviously ours will be the same with him. Personnel could vary here and there. Same defense, same concepts in the back end and such.”

On whether he was impressed with Jabbar Muhammad after watching film

“We thought he played good, you know, played 104 plays, which is not easy. Competed, you know, they did go after him. He held his own and played a good football game. He was competitive. Got his eyes down on the one tackle, but overall certainly played well for us to win.”

On any concerns he has with Oklahoma State’s secondary going against TCU

“Well, this team’s good on offense. I mean, they’re throwing the deep ball really well. The quarterback has come into this own in the last three or four weeks. He’s experienced now, I think this is what, his third year maybe? He’s been around a while. Playing well. You know, they’re averaging 6.6 (yards per) rush. The running backs are averaging over eight yards a carry and then he’s throwing the deep ball really well. And he can run. I don’t know that we have maybe one or two guys on the field on defense that can catch him. I think he’s that fast and is playing good. So, we’ll have to really have a good game plan. Our guys have to play well. We’ll have to be really competitive. They’re playing good football right now.”

On how he feels about his defense going up against a dual-threat quarterback like Max Duggan

“We do it. We’ve done it. From here on out, most of the guys that we’re going to play have the ability to run and take off and make a play. This guy’s really fast. So, it’s a little different. I haven’t studied the other guys in the league, but we have to do a good job of rushing him in the pass game. Make sure we eliminate some creases. We gave some creases up last Saturday. The quarterback that played against us, we didn’t know anything about him and we found out now he can run around and make plays. We should have contained him a little better. That’ll be a big factor in this game.”

On whether he remembers Max Duggan being at Oklahoma State for a recruiting camp

“I don’t remember what year that was now. Spencer (Sanders) was here with us for maybe a year at that time. I can’t even remember who we were recruiting, or what. Might have been (Brendan) Costello back then. But, we liked him. He’s a good player. His athleticism has been there from the start. I think he’s really developed as a thrower now, in my opinion. That’s where his game has gone to another level.”

On what he feels most secure about the defense at this point in the season

“Well, we’re getting a lot of young guys reps and they’re gaining valuable experience. I like that part. I’m not fired up about young guys gaining experience on the run like we are, but that’s what happening right now. I do like that. I think that we’ve been competitive and physical most of the time in our games. We’ve given up a few more run yards than we should have, because we’re getting out a gap responsibility, not necessarily because we’re getting width, which is better because we can solve those issues. For the most part, we’re defending pretty well. You know, we had [104] plays last week, the balls in the air a lot, guys made some plays. So, they’re coming along. I think that our staff is learning to work together with Derek (Mason). Their game day communication has been better each week. We made an adjustment, we put [safeties coach Dan Hammerschmidt] up in the box last week to give us a little more maturity and eyes up top there. [Mason] made that suggestion. I thought it was a good suggestion. It worked out well for us. So, they’re coming along. We got a long ways to go, but they’re coming along. Just try to keep playing as well as we can while these young guys grow up.”

On whether he is still comfortable with the defense

“Yeah, we don’t have those type of maturity on that side of the ball like we did last year. That was the difference. I think that there’s talent on this defense. I think there’s young guys that will be comparable to those guys, they just don’t have the experience and that’s the difference maybe you’re talking about, which is true. So, you know, as we prepare for each team I think you’re seeing a different offensive approach in the league this year than you saw in the last few years. And that’s going to factor into what some people would consider overall defensive statistics. They’re not gonna look as good this year for anybody, in my opinion, based on the style of play. We’re getting really, really good quarterback play in this league like we used to get forever, from about 2012 up through about [2018]. Remember, it was rough week to week. And I think you’re getting that again now. Guys are popping up in the league and playing fantastic at the quarterback position. So you’re seeing these numbers and yards. I haven’t seen Texas play and they’re getting it. I guess Kansas State’s getting it, and TCU is getting it. (Texas) Tech is getting it. I mean the guy that played against us from Tech is pretty good. I think he’s pretty good. So, you’re starting to see some of that pop up again, and that’s why you’re seeing some of these big numbers.”

On facing so many fourth downs in recent week and how it prepares the team for those situations moving forward

“Fourth downs is a call sheet now that we have to have, or we think we do. Some coaches are choosing to go for a lot of fourth downs. So, what would have been a very small play-call sheet for a defense in the past, now has grown some, different selections and stuff. It’s going to be a lot like, you know, third-and-3, fourth-and-3 are going to be similar, except defensively you can be a little more high-risk, because they have to perform better. The vulnerability, in my opinion, offensive on a fourth-down call is everything has to go right. Because if something goes wrong, and we end up getting three yards and it’s fourth, we can’t punt. The team gets the ball right there. So for us, we have to come up with a decent fourth-down play-call list for our defense, when in the past we really didn’t have to do that.”

On the quarterback depth in the Big 12

“Well, this guy [at TCU], I don’t think is going to lose his job now. I think he settled in pretty good, for whatever reason, however he got there. There was talk about that happening up at Kansas State, and I haven’t seen them play. I watched him play the other night, late. They played Saturday night, I saw 10, 15 plays. At one time they thought he wasn’t going to be the guy. I think he’s probably settled in now. And then I’m gonna guess that the guy we just played is probably settled in. They’ll probably play him, because I think the guy that was playing ahead of him was healthy, they just chose to make a change going into this game. And, the reason you’re seeing more of this is — travel baseball, forever, was brining in a higher-level kid getting out of high school, because they had personal trainers, personal hitting coaches, personal pitching coaches, all these different things we never got. I mean, we went to high school and played high school ball, and our coach was whoever who was the coach. We didn’t have a personal trainer. We didn’t have a personal hitting coach, or a throwing coach. And now you’re seeing these coaches that are getting young players who are 13-, 14-years old and are training them in footwork and body control and balance and arm slot and doing different things and are getting a lot more reps. So, when they get to our level they’ve had what would be more reps in reading defenses on studying on tape and throws in 7-on-7 stuff than I got when I was finished with my career. And that’s the difference and that’s what’s happening now. Same thing my boys did to me, both came and said they needed to hire a throwing coach. And I said ‘Well, I’ve been coaching quarterbacks for a long time.’ They said, ‘We’re looking for a real coach. A real throwing coach.’ Seriously, the middle one did it to me and the young one did it to me just a year ago. And that’s what these kids are doing now, and there’s guys who specialize in it. You know, Zac Robinson did it for years down here in Dallas, and was developing quarterbacks and then he got hired out here with the [Los Angeles] Rams. So that’s why they’re progressing way more faster than we ever did.”

On the depth of quarterback play in the Big 12

“It’s hit and miss, and knock on wood, we’ve been pretty effective here over the last 15 years when we’ve had to get to our second quarterback, and our third. We’ve played years where third-team quarterbacks been in and we could still function. There’s a mixed opinion in coaches and their approaches and how they want to handle that particular situation. Mine has always been a little different than other coaches, but that’s just the way I want to do it and with backup quarterbacks, I see it differently than maybe other teams do, or other coaches do. But there’s a difference of opinion that goes around and how people feel about backup quarterbacks.”

On the transfer portal working both ways when it comes to needing a backup quarterback

“So the approach that we have, I guess that I have, is I would prefer to have a quarterback in the program developing and bringing him up through, and the only way to do that is to give him reps. So, if you bring guys in every year at that position and for lack of a better term, ‘try him out,’ the only way you can do that is through reps. And when you do that, then you’re taken away from one that’s already here. And now you’re spreading those reps out instead of trying to develop them in your program. And if you just look at what’s going on the portal, you know, there’s still almost 1,400 players that are in the portal that had never gotten out. And at the quarterback position, tt’s been a little bit unique in the standpoint that we’ve seen some potential NFL players transfer somewhere and play a year or two (somewhere else) and their high-caliber talent, and they left because they were at a school where they thought they could beat a kid out and that kid was better and they said, ‘I’ve got to get out of here’ and they leave. And then there’s a big drop off to where there’s a bunch of guys transfer on the portal, quarterbacks going everywhere, and maybe they’re not any better than what you had to originally start and now you’re sharing reps with that other guy. So you’re not coming along as fast as you want to. That’s the way I see it. That’s just my opinion.”

On status updates on Korie Black, Preston Wilson and Braydon Johnson for the TCU game

“Well, the first thing is, I wouldn’t tell you anyway, but you’re doing your job. I like it. Second thing is, I’m expecting them to play, OK? They’re not a guy — when we get a guy that’s out, I’ll tell you they’re out. But, they should be practicing middle of the week.”

On whether he feels coverage in the secondary was good against Texas Tech

“Yeah, it wasn’t bad. I mean, they threw it, I don’t know, how many times did they throw it? Yeah, I mean, we said it was going to be 60-something, they threw it 60-something. It’s the law of averages, right. You throw it 60-something times, eventually they’re going to hit some, right? I mean, it’s the old Mike Leach theory. I’d rather throw it 65 times than run it 65 times, because I can average over nine and a half yards per pass, and if I’m good at running, I’m only going to average about four and a half yards. So, if you do the math, it’s a better football play. That’s what’s going on. So they’re going to make some plays. [Cam Smith] down here in the corner, I think he got beat on the ball down on the 1-yard line or something. He’s in good coverage. He’s right there, the ball was under thrown, the guy goes back, makes a good catch. It is what it is. You see it on Sundays right? You see it all the time. So overall, our coverage is pretty good for 60-something pass attempts. Do we need to get better? Sure we do. Do we need to locate a little better in some zone coverages? Sure we do. But if we do a better job of messing up the quarterback in our pass rush to try to contain him a little better. It may not be easy to get to some of those throws, but I was pleased with the overall coverage and what we did with the amount of times they threw the ball.”

On the first touchdown pass Behren Morton threw against Oklahoma State

“Yeah, he made a good throw and [Korie Black] got beat. He wasn’t full speed. We found that out on that play, unfortunately. I mean, we just asked about it. He’s doing better, he ran last night, but he couldn’t take off and go and the guy got a step on him, and he threw the ball on the money. I don’t even know what the kid’s name is, I guess probably better learn his name, unfortunately. Maybe he’ll leave after next year, but he made a lot of good throws. That ball is thrown right on the money. So, this guy we’re playing Saturday is throwing the deep ball as accurate as anybody I’ve seen in a long time. Unfortunately.”

On Bryson Green’s emergence

“He’s learning how to use his body. He’s a big guy. I mean, I don’t even know what he weighs now. We got him at 205. So he’s a Marcell Ateman type of player. And Marcell was 6-5, but I’m saying that Marcell used his body as an advantage in the receiving game, and [Green] is figuring that out. He’s learning to use his body. What are your strengths? Am I a fast guy? Use your speed, quickness to make my cuts. Or do I use my body and body people up? So that’s where he’s improved. He’s got a long ways to go, but I’m pleased with his progress very early in his career.”

On Trace Ford’s ability to breakup passes at the line

“He’s very athletic, 1) that helps a lot. He gets in certain spots in games, and he’s very cerebral and he has a natural ability to do some things, and so that’s not something really we coach. You know, you don’t want to jump, because the worst thing you can do is jump and quarterbacks [pump fake]. He kind of knows how to stay on the ground until he has a feel for if he needs to lift and stuff. He does a good job of that. I don’t really understand to give you an answer to that. But he’s been really good at those over his career.”

On how much quarterback containment responsibility is on the defensive line and how much is on linebackers

“Both, everybody’s got a responsibility. You know, we got to rush the quarterback, but we also have to be aware of who is the quarterback. And this guy can take off and runs, so we have to do a good job of building a wall and netting him up, try to eliminate creases. Be careful about giving the edge up. And linebackers are involved in some of that at times based on what the calls are.”

On whether Dominic Richardson is playing better than he expected

“He’s doing really well right now. He’s running physical. That’s what he does. He’s listening. He’s learning. He’s trying to adapt to making guys miss a little more instead of just running people over. He’ll improve at that throughout his career, kind of like Chris Carson did. Chris Carson just ran everybody over, and then he realized he could make them miss a little bit and then he mixed those together. That’s what we’d like to get with [Richardson]. We need tough yards out of him. We need him to be physical, and he’s done that. So I’m pleased with his progress.”

On 2:30 p.m. kickoffs

“Yeah, 2:30 is a good kickoff time. Gives fans a chance to tailgate and come here and enjoy themselves, and you can watch the game and not go home real late. Everybody gets to get home before 10 and things like that. It’s the ideal time for college football — 2:30s are my choice. You got good coverage on the east coast, good coverage on the west coast.”

On OSU staying even keel

“That’s part of our culture. General public, the fans, people, if I see somebody at the coffee shop, at the gas station ‘Coach, you got a big game this week.’ ‘Every game is a big game. They’re all the same.’ ‘Nah, this one’s bigger.’ ‘I’m with you, but if we didn’t win the last one, this one wouldn’t be as big.’ So, the players have to approach it that way. It’s a 12 game season, right? We know we get 12 games, and we can’t get too high on one or too low on the other. There’s not been many teams in the country finished a year without losing a game at some particular point during the season — or good teams last couple games. So if you throw all your eggs in one basket and get all jacked up and put everything out there, then you lose, come up short, sometimes it’s hard to recover and get ready for the next one when the preparation needs to say the same. I know some people don’t want to hear that. They don’t believe in that. But that is one thing I know for sure that has to happen in college football. You got to stay the same all the time.”

On how he gets younger player to buy in

“They have to learn in the culture. From Day 1, I start feeding them things and wear them out. I could bring guys in here and they could recite for you what I tell them on Saturday mornings every game day. They can tell you exactly what I say because I say the same thing every time. It takes 14.5 minutes, I say the same thing. When they come in here as a young player, I start giving them the information that I want them to get from Day 1. That’s what I do. I don’t call plays anymore, so I work from Day 1, just like you do when you’re raising a kid. ‘Yes, sir. No, sir. Yes, ma’am. No, ma’am. Please. Thank you. You do what you’re told. Respect adults,’ from Day 1. Just keep feeding it to them, and then hopefully they get it. In this organization, most of them that don’t usually won’t make it here very long, which doesn’t happen much anymore because we have 140 players on our team. We’ve got good kids. We don’t have many issues, so they all migrate toward a positive force. That’s what happens here. That’s the luxury of me being here almost 19 years, different than when you’re just starting the program or you don’t have continuity with your staff, then it becomes more of an issue of trying to get them to understand what actually our goals are. And it’s not 100%, but it gives you the best chance.”

On whether the OSU offense is playing at the tempo he wants

“They’ve played OK. We need to run the ball better. Need to block better and run the ball better. That would help, but we’re playing OK.”

On finding balance with tempo so OSU’s defense doesn’t get tired from getting back on the field too soon

“Yeah, there’s a time for tempo and then there’s a time that tempo is really not an advantage. Years ago, when we had veteran offensive linemen, had an early round NFL quarterback pick, we had two or three wideouts that were NFL kids and a running back, we just played fast all time because it didn’t matter. It’s hard to screw it up — just call a play and let them make a play. If you don’t have that luxury, then there’s a time to play fast and there’s time to not play fast based on the circumstances, could be your opponent, could be the depth you have on offense, could be your health that week on offense, a variety of things that could change that. So as coaches we have to make a good decision based on what we have available each week, and/or each year, instead of just saying we’re gonna do one or the other.”

On Derek Mason mixing starters in backups in practice and how they could benefit the team during a game like this past Saturday’s when players get injured

“They wanted to work guys through based on a little bit of a change in that staff, and it works out OK because ever since COVID, we practice ones and twos and threes. Our threes get the same number of reps as our ones get. That’s one thing that I learned. I’ve said many times that I’ve learned that. So guys over a period of time get better. I’ll give you an example, when we started in August of last year through bowl practice, from August practice all the way until the end of all practice until we played the last game, our threes and/or our young kids got approximately 425 live snaps. That’s a lot. So those young kids and those threes in practice when we went in 11-on-11, they got around 425 snaps that my first 15 years of coaching, I’m guessing the threes probably got 50, 60, something like that. We just didn’t do much of it. That was a mistake on my part. So now those guys get quality work because we all know that the three becomes a two real quick, and then the two that’s out there gets tired and he taps out and the three goes in.”

On what improvements he wants to see from OSU’s pass rush

“It was pretty good Saturday. We were disruptive, but we were out of control. We need to net them up, and we need to be in control. That’s a really difficult thing for a defensive lineman to do is, ‘Coach, you’re telling me to fight like crazy and do whatever I can do to get to the quarterback. Then you’re telling me to be under control.’ So, it’s just a learning process that we go through and the coaching of understanding who we’re playing against, like this guy this week is really active and can run. So, we need to have a good rush, but we need to rush together and not create a lot of creases. So statistically they’ve been good. They could be better working as a unit.”

On Sean Michael Flanagan

“He’s been good. There’s times he needs to do a couple of things better, which we’ve talked with him about that yesterday, but his commitment to this organization has been awesome. His willingness to compete, practice and play in games when he’s beat up has been excellent. And he’s one of those guys that is going to get better every game because he hadn’t played much really prior this year other than special teams.”

On whether he is appealing Kendal Daniels’ first-half suspension

“I called Greg (Burks) this morning and offered him several things, and he said ‘Coach, that one’s not gonna get overturned.’ I said, ‘Well, I appreciate it.’ But, what he did is targeting. He hit him with the crown of his helmet.”

On Kendal Daniels’ performance

“He’s getting better every week. Lines up wrong sometimes. Gets an assignment wrong sometimes, just like a young player would do. But he’s getting better every week, and he’s now playing faster because he’s not having to think as much. He’s got a ways to go. This time next year, he’s gonna be a good football player. He’s gonna play for us. He’s gonna keep getting more reps. All of the things that we ask him to do in this culture, he’s doing good. He’s gonna get better. It’s new to him. Reps. He hit that blitz exactly the way he was supposed to hit it. When he hit the running back down here and the quarterback kept the ball and scored, he did exactly what he was supposed to do. We had somebody else for the quarterback, and that guy didn’t do his job. But [Daniels] exactly what he was supposed to do, and he did it in a forceful way. If he keeps doing that, he’ll come around and be fine.”

On Ben Kopenski

“He got 36 plays, and he needs to be in that 50 number. Sometimes we have personnel groupings based on the teams we’re playing. You have speed packages, muscle packages, so on and so forth. But he really needs to be in there 45 or 50 plays based on an 80-play game. [TCU] is averaging 67.5 plays a game. [Texas Tech] is averaging upwards of 90. So for whatever reason, if this ends up being a 75-play game for them, he needs to be in there 40ish or so because he’s earned that and he plays smart.”

On whether he moved a coach down from the box after moving Dan Hammerschmidt up

“No, we just moved him up. We have enough guys on the ground.”

On whether Top 15 matchups still excite him

“I think so. When you have a lot of hype, there’s a feeling in pregame warmup that’s different than without that. I think I still feel that. So I guess my answer would be yes, yeah. I always hear coaches say, ‘Yeah, this is what I coach for,’ and some players say, ‘This is what I play for,’ — like a one vs. two or six vs. five or whatever. I like the 28-point spread games better. They’re much more enjoyable for me. But when we’re in these games and the pregame and getting going and the crowd and the pageantry of college football is pretty special.”

On big games becoming commonplace for OSU

“I coached 11 years as an assistant and never coached on a winning team. My first 11 years of coaching as an assistant I had a losing record. I learned to appreciate what’s going on now because I had the other side for a long time. The famous line that Todd Monken used to say, and he was dead on — it doesn’t make a difference if you’re coaching in the NFL, you’re coaching Power Five, Division-V, Division-II, JUCO, or Division-XVI, or high school, if you’re losing, it’s no fun. If you’re winning, it’s fun. When you think about that, he’s exactly right. Us having as much success as we’ve had for a long period of time makes it better, and it keeps you in the game, keeps you coaching, keeps you wanting to do it.”

On the past two trips to Fort Worth not going well for OSU

“I didn’t even know that until you just brought it up. I’ve never been able to do much with that. The reason why is because honestly, I didn’t remember that myself. And the ones that play in the game, they are clueless. They have no idea what happened down there two years ago or four years ago. They just know what’s next on TikTok or Instagram or something like that.”

On why some college coaches struggle when making the jump to hte NFL

“The NFL is parity. … Last year’s Super Bowl team [the Los Angeles Rams], I think they’re 2-3, and then the Bengals lost last night and they were in the Super Bowl and they’re 2-3. I think before this week, the Patriots were 1-3, and [Bill Belichick] is supposed to be a good coach. The point being is, the NFL, there’s so much parity. That’s what’s trickling down to college because of NIL and the (transfer) portal. That’s why you’re seeing things that are starting to level out now because guys are bouncing around in the portal, quarterbacks are bouncing around. You take a quarterback that’s starting somewhere, and he’s a really good college player, if you don’t screw it up as a coach, you’re gonna win eight games. Then he leaves and goes somewhere else and the next guy playing has not played much, you might be a five- or six-win season, so it’s a huge impact. I know you’re seeing that in the NFL. Now it’s coming down to college with NIL and the portal. There’s just so much parity in the NFL. How else would you explain that?”

On whether he has ever wanted to coach in the NFL

“Sure, yeah. Ten years ago, I don’t remember how many years ago, I interviewed three times with one team and then didn’t take the job. It was Tampa Bay. I think they hired the guy from Rutgers [Greg Schiano]. I had multiple interviews with them. But anyway, long story short, yeah, I thought about it. But obviously not now.”

On TCU coach Sonny Dykes

“Just like his dad, he had tremendous success out there and was good at what he did. I coached against him when I was at Baylor, and they wacked us. They were good at what they did, and outside looking in, he’s got some of those principles, whatever. He’s been good and had success everywhere he’s been.”