STILLWATER — After three long weeks, the Cowboys are going into a week of practice after putting a notch in the win column.
Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy met with the media Monday for his regular luncheon. Here are five things he hit on.
1. It’s Hard to Get a Yard
There were a few instances this weekend that proved the difficulty of gaining a yard in a cloud of dust.
Oklahoma State ran into those troubles Friday night against Kansas State. The Cowboys had a first-and-goal inside the K-State 5-yard line, and the possession ended with a field-goal attempt. The Cowboys then went for it on a would-be game-icing fourth down and failed to get the yard needed.
Gundy was complimentary to his offensive line’s improvement against the Wildcats, but in tight was an area of struggle.
“They kicked our a–,” Gundy said. “I mean, that was real simple. I mean, I’m being honest. Scheme-wise, maybe we could’ve adjusted a couple things, but we didn’t get any movement. The offensive line played good in this game, but in that particular area, we didn’t get any movement.”
I likened it Friday to OSU not being able to get the yard it needed in the 2021 Big 12 Championship game. But it isn’t just the Cowboys who had trouble gaining a yard.
The most publicized goal-line stand of the weekend came in the Red River Rivalry where Texas had four plays inside the Oklahoma 3-yard line, and the Longhorns were stuffed each time.
“I came to work Saturday morning and then went home at 11 [a.m.] because I wanted to watch the games, and I normally don’t get a chance to do that,” Gundy said. “All I did was watch games all day Saturday. How many games did you guys watch that we watched that teams couldn’t get one yard.
“… It’s difficult now, but we have to find a way to do it because we can’t win by attempting six field goals in a game. We’re not gonna be that fortunate much more, so we gotta find a way to score touchdowns.”
2. ‘Might as Well Steal Their Plays’
The term “copycat league” gets thrown around in the NFL quite a bit.
If a play works for one team, other teams will use it. The “tush push” (aka brotherly shove) has been under the microscope over the past year or so with the Philadelphia Eagles shoving Jalen Hurts forward to get a needed yard.
With Gundy being able to watch some college football on Saturday since his Cowboys played on Friday, he said he took some notes in the games he watch.
“I have a Big Chief notebook and a crayon every time I watch — nah, I was joking,” Gundy said. “I have a notepad and a pen, and it sits by my chair. I have all my stuff around, and if I try to steal people’s plays and make notes. Anything I see that’s a good play, I write it down.
“… There’s a lot of smart coaches out there — might as well steal their plays.”
3. Trick Plays Galore
The Cowboys let loose on their opening few drives against Kansas State on Friday, letting everyone know they were going for the upset win.
OSU ran a reverse, a reverse flea-flicker, a throw-back pass to Alan Bowman and even featured a creative punt fake.
With the trick plays in abundance against the Wildcats, it begged the question where that creativity was in losses against South Alabama and Iowa State. Gundy said the set up to those plays mattered.
“We’ve had it in, but we haven’t had a chance to do it,” Gundy said. “You don’t want to do those plays when you’re behind by three touchdowns or behind by two touchdowns because the defense is not set up for it. You have to stay on the chains and have some balance to allow you to open up the rolodex of things that you can do in a game. We just haven’t been in that situation.”
4. Finding Identity
Identity has been a theme around this Cowboy team — particularly the Pokes trying to find their identity.
After weeks of quarterback carousels and everything else that has gone on, it seems like OSU has started to hone in on what it can be over the past two games.
It would make sense that OSU’s identity would be hard to … well, identify early in the year because of all the roster turnover. Gundy noted Monday that this isn’t the Mason Rudolph-led teams that were going to try to outscore the teams it was up against, nor is it the Jim Knowles-led defense of 2021 where opposing quarterbacks stayed under duress for 60 minutes.
“We have to find our who we are and what can we get accomplished — not what can we draw on a board,” Gundy said. “I think we’re moving in that direction better. Now, the question from you guys is why are you waiting until the fifth game of the season. Well, we didn’t. We were feeling our way through, and we’re doing a better job now. And I think the players are buying in more to the certain concepts we’re trying to get accomplished.”
5. Coaching Hard Through Struggles
On-field struggles can seem like an extra slippery slope in today’s college football.
Not only is losing not fun, but then coaches have to worry about players entering the transfer portal because things aren’t going well — further setting things back.
Coming off losses to South Alabama and Iowa State, Gundy said he challenged the team going into practice after that rough patch, and it seems like he got the results he was looking for.
“I did share this with you two weeks ago and last week,” Gundy said, “and I told the team this: I don’t give a damn if we lost a game, and if you want to pout about it, then don’t come to practice. Just stay home or go in the portal, I don’t care. I only want guys that want to practice and compete and not feel sorry for themselves.
“And they responded. They bought into that. That helps, but when you do play well, it’s easier to coach them harder. But we chose to coach them hard after we lost the games versus going the other way because I don’t see any results with young people in society today if you’re gonna get soft on them, then they’re going to get even more soft than they already are. That’s just my opinion.”
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