With the 2021 football season nearly upon us, Mike Gundy held his first radio show of the season Monday evening alongside the great Dave Hunziker to hit on a number of topics before the season-opener on Saturday.
Here are a few highlights of his radio appearance.
• “I’ve been very fortunate. This has always been a special place,” Gundy said entering his 17th season at OSU. “We’ve had good people here, good players. … I’m healthy and feel good, still really enjoy being around the players, and the game is exciting, practice is exciting … that really hasn’t changed much for me. In fact it’s started to kind of come around for me again from the standpoint that I just have one at home now with Gage being a junior. Now I have a lot more time to work. I allotted a lot of my time to my kids, so now — and Gage is pretty self-sufficient — other than that there’s not much to do besides football.”
• Gundy on people retiring around him: “I hear people say ‘Oh John Wilson, who we went to school with, he retired.’ I start to hear about my friends who are retiring or close friends from high school who have put 30 years in school systems in Oklahoma and down in Texas double-dipping. It’s hard for me to fathom retirement. It’s kind of turning a full circle for me. I’m just glad to be able to continue to do it. It’s a new time at Oklahoma State. We have a new president, new athletic director. It’s a new time. I think it’s a great time for Oklahoma State right now.”
• Gundy on coaching 17 years at OSU: “I’ve been fortunate. It’s been a good match. Being from here, having the luxury of knowing this place as well as I do. … Different things that are important in longevity. My history here has allowed me to make more good decisions than bad decisions.”
• Gundy on how his familiarity with OSU has helped him: “One thing that I can clearly say and not have any regrets in saying is that I don’t think there’s anybody that walks the face of the earth that knows more about Oklahoma State football than me. I came here in 1986. If you want to talk about football, or things like that, there’s a lot of people that know more than me. But as far as Oklahoma State football? I came here in 1986, was gone about five years and been here ever since. I do know the ins and outs of this place. That has helped in a big way. Sometimes in our profession we get out of our box. We go in a direction that maybe is not beneficial and somewhat unrealistic. In doing that you waste a lot of time and effort instead of focusing on who we are, what our strengths are, and be innovative. We’ve been innovative, but we know who we are so we don’t get in a position where we set ourselves back.”
• Gundy on staying in his box: “I get a good number of calls in the offseason from head coaches. They want to know how, in my opinion, they create longevity. One thing I say is that you have to be who you are. You can’t be someone you’re not. Your fans, players, administration pick up on it. And then when things go wrong, which they will, you can’t do a 360 change. … You’ve gotta be real careful about changing things.”
• What Gundy sees in Missouri State: “They’ve got a very experienced coach who has had success everywhere he’s been. They took a lot of transfers. Their QB has been very successful, dual-threat guy. Some defensive guys … they just have a number of guys. And they have an advantage in that they just played [in the spring]. We’re not taking them lightly at all. Our guys understand and have practiced well, we need to get going. I would guess their depth isn’t quite what ours is, but when you have an experienced coach and you have a QB who has a lot of reps and you have a couple guys who can make a play on the edge, they are a threat. We’re aware of all that. We’ve practiced well. Scheme-wise, [Petrino] hasn’t changed much. With this QB, you would think he would do a lot of things he did with Lamar Jackson [at Louisville].”
• Gundy on Missouri State talent level: “Based on what you’re reading and the information you’re getting,” he says this might be most talented FCS team OSU has faced.
• Gundy on his super seniors: “If you think about this, the illustration I use was, if we just had these four guys from last year that thought about coming back — Cam Murray, Dillon Stoner, Amen Ogbongbemiga and Calvin Bundage — if you take those four guys and their experience and production and put them on your team now and add them to your starting 22, look how much better you’d be. So when we talk about the super seniors and the way it’s set up right now, because there’s going to be super seniors next year, you could set yourself up if you hit on some guys, you get two or three guys that are game-changers and all of a sudden you’re a lot better football team.
“There’s no substitute for experience. Period. I don’t know about other sports, but in football, guys who have had a lot of reps and been in games and played on the road, there’s just not a substitute for that. That’s why it’s a big advantage.”
• What Gundy likes about his 2021 team: “They’ve worked really hard. We talk about the ability for them to come together as a group and care about each other. It’s so important in every team sport I imagine, I know it is in football. And they’ve done that. So, I like that part about them. I think they’ll play hard for each other. Offensively, we went through such a tragedy on the offensive line that just by our depth chart we’re already better. Just having guys that have practiced who are healthy. We’re going to be better because of that. We’re going to be better at quarterback. At wide-out, we lost Tylan and Stoner, but Tay Martin should be able to fill one of those voids. And then you have Brennan Presley who really came on last year. … This group of young wide receivers might be like that young group that Mason played with during his three years, where there was four or five of them that got to play in the NFL. And then the RB position, we’ve never had this many running backs at one time, guys who can make plays.”
• Gundy on how he feels about different units: “Offensively, we’re in a really good position. Special teams, I’ve shared this with our players, we have a number of guys that play corner, safety, linebacker, wide-out or fullback, who can run fast and make a play. We should be really good on special teams. And then we have good returners, we have a home run threat at returner with Presley, and we have a returning kicker that had great success, we have a punter who was successful and is improved, and we have a deep-snapper who is good enough to snap in the NFL. We should be really good on special teams. Defensively, we have a very fast team. We have a lot of experience at safety. We’ve talked about how important that is. We have Bernard and Holmes at corner, and both those guys are solid. We’ve got Malcolm back at backer and Devin Harper. Then up front we’ve got some depth and we should be able to roll tackles in throughout the year, and we should have at least three of our ends that we roll in. And those guys have played quite a bit when you talk about Brock Martin, Tyren Irby and Trace Ford. If we run to the ball, we’ll be just fine because I think we can cover a lot of ground.”
• Gundy on what he has learned from pandemic: “We’re responsible for taking care of each other, protecting ourselves, doing everything we can. I learned from seeing it up close with friends back home that are my age that are no longer with us anymore, and friends of mine from other places that are my age that are no longer with us, I learned the severity of it and how serious it is. … We found out we could meet and use Zoom and we could save a lot of money. From a football standpoint, a year ago we practiced all our young players close to just as many reps as our 1s and 2s because we didn’t know who was going to get the virus. We practiced everybody all the time because I told the coaches that some [backups] might be the starters. When it was over, I started looking at the results that we got out of it, and I thought ‘we should have been doing this the last 15 years.’” Gundy added that approach is something he plans — and has — implemented into a more permanent schedule. Lot more 3s and young guys running in practice.
• Gundy on covid and the Delta variant: “I was getting a little nervous four or five weeks ago, it was scaring me with how contagious this one is. I’ll be honest — I was more worried this July than I was last year. Last year it wasn’t this way. Hopefully enough people are getting vaccinated and we can get fight through this so we can get back to a normal life. We want a full house on game day, we want everyone to stay safe, so hopefully you’re vaccinated and if not protect yourself and protect everyone else.”
• Gundy on how fans can help in realignment: “You can fill that stadium. If you want to play a part, you buy season tickets, you come to the games because someone is watching. Don’t kid yourself. People are watching. If we have a full stadium and you’ve done your part and bought tickets, you’ve contributed to helping this university and athletic department continue on when we start talking about conference realignment.”
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