OSU Prepares For Texas Tech on Saturday
Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy and members of the team visited with the media Monday in Boone Pickens Stadium to put a cap on last week's win over West Virginia and to look ahead to this week's contest against Texas Tech.
Head Coach Mike Gundy
"We're back to work. We had a good meeting session yesterday and practice last night. It's always fun on Sunday night when you win. We have a much different challenge this week. We're not only playing an offense that has had a lot of success and run up some big numbers, a quarterback that's experienced and playing very well, but also a defense that's considerably different than what they were at this time last year. They've been very effective, so we'll have a challenge this week. Our players are in a good frame of mind, excited and we're at a point where we can have two good practices a week, polish up on Thursday and get ready to play with a lot of effort. It should be a lot of fun this weekend. We have two good teams and we should have a great atmosphere. We're looking forward to it--looking forward to the week's work in practice."
On Josh Stewart:
"Josh has been really good for us. Not only as a receiver, but we've been able to flip the ball to him and let him run. When we recruited him, the word was that he was a gamer. He liked to touch the football, he liked to be in the heat of the moment and be the guy that you rely on for big plays. He's starting to mature a little bit. He's only been around here for a year and a half. We're very glad we have him. He's a guy I mentioned after the game who really likes to play football. Those guys who really enjoy playing the game have a great chance to have success."
On the importance of Justin Gilbert's kickoff return touchdown vs. West Virginia:
"At that point when they had cut it to 14-7, for us to be able to return that kickoff and get the momentum back on our side was really important. At this press conference a week ago, I said special teams would be really important in this game because we felt like both offenses would score points. There were several times in the game where momentum played a huge factor and it was based on our special teams."
On the leadership of the senior class:
"They've done really well. Early in the season we talked about them creating an identity and developing some team chemistry. As the season has gone on, they've worked hard at it and they've accomplished a lot as a group. You have teams that have to really work to create that based on losing a lot of leadership from the year before, and these guys have rallied and stayed together through good times and some tough times. I'm proud of them for what they've accomplished to this point and they need to lead us all the way through."
On coaches lobbying to play in the BCS National Championship:
"I think each coach has to make a decision based on what gives his team the best opportunity to play in the championship game. I don't know that there's a perfect time. That's how we handle it here. It's really hard for me to speak for anybody else, but our staff has talked about it, and obviously I had a method for what I thought was best for us last year and it didn't work. We ran in the election and finished third. So I don't know that I have all the answers, but that would be my opinion."
On the process behind determining Saturday's starting quarterback:
"We're not really sure right now. For me to give you any other answer would be unfair. We haven't been in a situation like this. We hope that we have three healthy players on Saturday. There's a chance that could happen, but we won't know for sure until late in the week. There are still discussions taking place. The only answer I have is that we're going to play the guy who we feel like gives us the best chance to win Saturday and have success. I don't think there's any perfect or right answer based on that we have three individuals that have been in our program who are getting close to being in a position to play. I don't know that we have them all right now, but we could. So, there will be at least one guy, maybe two guys depending on where we are from a health standpoint, who won't be happy with the decision that's made--the competitive nature of an athlete. As coaches, we have to make tough decisions and that's what we'll do on Thursday."
On whether the gap that existed between the quarterbacks this spring still exists after now having game film:
"It gets blurred based on the three of them having success. Clint Chelf has been in for five and a half quarters and his experience has been evident in that he makes fewer mistakes than the other guys. Blurred is probably a good description of Clint playing better than we would have anticipated, or at that point he wouldn't have been third-team. I don't know any other way to put it. We've been wrong before in situations. I've mentioned before how much admiration I have for Clint in the way he's handled this situation for nine months now. It's not an easy task for us, but I'd rather be in this situation than looking for a guy to go out there and make a play."
Offensive Coordinator Todd Monken
On having three different quarterbacks who have performed well this season:
"It says a lot about the guys we have. I think our guys have played well around them. I think it's a credit to those kids. They're talented. If they didn't have the talent, you can't win. It's not like you can pull someone off the street and decide to play them. There is a limit to that. We have talented guys who believe in what we do. Our guys buy into that."
On deciding between the three quarterbacks moving forward:
"We'll have to look at it and decide who gives us the best chance to win. They were all available the other night, but available and medically cleared is different from being able to function, practice, be accurate with your throws and give us a chance to win. They'll all be cleared this week, so we'll just go from there. We have three guys who are capable of winning, so we'll just assess it as the week goes."
On Josh Stewart:
"I think Josh has played well all year, but sometimes the ball comes your way more often and you have a chance to make those kind of plays, and obviously he did when they afforded themselves Saturday. He's progressed as a route runner. That's where you'll see it the most. He's always been a good athlete--a good space player. That hasn't changed. A lot of guys are athletes. What you're trying to do is get your guys to be good route-runners and receivers."
On Texas Tech steadily improving defensively over the years:
"Last year they had a bunch of guys injured. I think they moved a receiver to corner and he was playing. They were in a tough spot. They were trying to fill some holes, and they kind of switched up on defense in our game. You go through that. You go through times when you're trying to figure stuff out. They're obviously structured differently. They have two or three different guys on defense. The way they line up and approach it is different. They're playing hard. The thing about playing against spread teams is you have to play consistently sound and not give up big plays. When you do that, you give yourself a chance and that's what they're doing."
Defensive Coordinator Bill Young
On the defensive senior class:
"We don't have many seniors on defense. Obviously, there's a lot of leadership out of those guys. Even though they're small in number, they're leaders. They're all participating and contributing."
On Kevin Peterson and his growing role on defense
"He's just getting better and better. He's so much better than what we thought he would be at this point. So many people play with four and five wide receivers and they run our corners to death. You have to have a spell. To be able to put him in and not have a big drop-off has been huge for us."
On Texas Tech's offense:
"They're very similar to West Virginia. They'll go five wide and their running back is like a wide receiver coming out of the backfield, so they stretch you, open up big gaps in the middle and if you miss a tackle, it's a big play. Just a very tough offense to play against--much like ours."
On Seth Doege:
"He has tremendous poise. He's standing right in the pocket, bombs are going off right and left, he's taking the hit, delivering the ball and he doesn't seem to be affected by pressure at all. When you can do that as a quarterback and have the arm that he has, then you're going to be really successful."
Wide Receiver Josh Stewart
On being named Big 12 Player of the Week:
"It means a lot. All of these great players in the Big 12, and you get chosen as one of the best players that week. That's great, and it means a lot to me."
On how the offense has maintained consistency despite the changes at the quarterback position:
"Just being able to adapt to our quarterback, and the leadership of whatever quarterback takes the role that week. All of our quarterbacks do a great job of leading us when it's their turn, and that's a big factor in it.
On the Texas Tech defense:
"All we know is that they have one of the best defenses in the Big 12, but that's not something that we really look at. We just need to look at what they do, which we'll find out tomorrow when we look at film, and then go from there."
Kicker/punter Quinn Sharp
On special teams vs. West Virginia:
"I think we went back to a little simpler scheme. We made guys get more sound on the back end. We didn't get over-exuberant with everything we were trying to do. We didn't run three or four. We stuck to one or two, and they worked out very well."
On his 74-yard punt into the wind:
"When I saw in the end zone that they were in a hold up demeanor, I figured I would have an extra split second to almost a half second to make sure my form was proper and hit the ball correctly. I thought that I had a chance of putting it over his head."
On their improved play against West Virginia:
"Two weeks ago, we did not play well at all against Kansas State, but when you come into the game like we did this past week, you get two turnovers off special teams and create points, have momentum plays and take possessions away from them, that's a big key in the game. It was a very powerful part of the outcome."
Offensive Lineman Lane Taylor
On senior day:
"It's going to be tough. I've played so many games in this stadium. There are a lot of good memories, and I've done a lot in this stadium. It will be tough for it to be the last one. I think before the game and after the game is when I'll think about it the most. It's gone by a lot quicker than I thought it would. For years I was here, and I always thought I had thousands of games left. Before you know it, I'm here now on the last week of playing here."
On the success of the program while he's been here:
"It's great just to know that my class really laid down a foundation for the Oklahoma State program and what it stands for. There's definitely pride in looking back, and knowing you were part of the success of this program. "
On the younger classes:
"They're very mature, and they're not selfish. They're here for the team, and they're willing to do whatever to help out another teammate."
Linebacker Lyndell Johnson
On defending an offense like Texas Tech's vs. defending an offense like Kansas State:
"There's a big difference. Kansas State is more of a running team, but with a spread team like Tech, we go against it just about every day. The stuff they're doing is not a surprise to us. We have to be in the right position to make plays and go from there."
On the difficult closing schedule:
"It's one of those things where we have to stay together and not lose focus. We have to take it a day at a time and know that the next game is always the most important game. We can't lose that kind of focus, especially at the end of the season. Some teams get tired and ready for the season to be over, but we're ready to keep on going. We're ready for the challenge, and we need to go with it."
Defensive end Cooper Bassett
On the approach and expectations for senior day:
"It's going to be a really special day for me. I grew up an Oklahoma State fan and it means a lot. I was talking about it with my family last week and how this could be the last time they come to Stillwater for a game for a really long time and it just kind of sunk in then. I just want to enjoy every second of it and soak everything in. I am going to stay focused on the game and try not to let my emotions get the best of me until afterwards. I am sure after the game I will take a moment to let all those emotions soak in and hit me then but before the game we are going to try to just maintain focus on beating Texas Tech."
On his memories with being with the team:
"I can remember my first day on campus. I can remember the first time I ran out, back then it was the east end zone, and running out onto the field. It has flown by. My career has taken a bunch of different paths that I didn't think it would take. There's the position switch, to winning the Big 12 championship, to winning the Fiesta Bowl, and being a part of all the new construction and the opening of the west end zone. OSU has turned from a solid, middle-of-the-road team in the Big 12 to one of the top teams in the Big 12. It's very special and I have enjoyed every second of it."
On the possibility of being the most winning class in school history:
"I don't think too many guys thought of it that way. All of us would love to win out and then win our bowl game because we want to go out on a great note. We want to leave on a winning season, a good season, not just a decent year. We want to leave on a high note, that's the main thing. We want to win and finish out the season that way but not because we want to be the winningest class, it's just because we are all competitors and this is a great class of seniors and we want to finish the right way."
On how the team has transitioned into becoming a yearly contender:
"Part of it is the great coaching staff, from the strength and conditioning program to the people in the offices keeping us in check academically and off the field. Then we have great coaches that give us a great scheme week in and week out to win the game. They have brought in hard working players that are good athletes that give us the ability to win. When you put all that together you have a program that continually gets better and deeper and solidifies the fact that this is a program that is here for a while not just a flash in the pan."
Linebacker Shaun Lewis
On Texas Tech's high-powered offense:
"We should probably see the same type of game plan this week. We'll be able to play a lot faster on defense this week because it will be the second week in a row that we've seen an offense like this. It's almost the exact same offense as West Virginia. It's the same type of offense we've been seeing the past few years. Practice should be pretty similar this week."
On stopping a solid quarterback in Geno Smith last week:
"It's a good feeling. To have a quarterback of his caliber back there and no one to throw to with all those receivers he has, that's a good feeling. That's a product of the game plan and the coaching. We were really proud of our effort."
On the difference between Texas Tech's Seth Doege and West Virginia's Geno Smith:
"There's not too much of a difference in style, but the difference is with the weapons they have. Geno Smith has Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey to throw the ball to. The Texas Tech receivers are probably not as big with names, but they're just as capable.
On the defense giving up a lot of yards but still showing results:
It's a team sport. When the offense is struggling, we have to take up for them. The box score and the stats don't really tell the story, but we do a good job of helping the offense out when we need it. Also, we can help out special teams if they give up a long kickoff return and they're closer to the end zone."
Running Back Joseph Randle
On the defense stepping up and limiting the efficient West Virginia offense:
"They've worked real hard over the past week knowing that they would have a pretty big challenge from West Virginia's offense. We talked about it a lot at practice. You could tell the coaches and players were working on it pretty hard, and it worked out for us. The defense played a great game."
On overcoming several key injuries this year:
"We're resilient. We're faced with a lot of challenges that we have to come back from. We have to make the best of each opportunity we're given."
On the special teams unit making big plays against West Virginia:
"It was very special. Justin Gilbert ran one back, and we were able to get some points in some places where we usually don't. We recovered a few fumbles that put us in a good position to score as well. That played a big role in the game."
Safety Shamiel Gary
On Stopping West Virginia's offense, especially on broken plays:
"We emphasized it. We knew coming in that Geno Smith was good at keeping the play alive, so we made sure we stayed in coverage and stayed focused on our guy."
On Texas Tech:
"It's almost like we practice against Texas Tech. They run an offense like what we do. It's a good opportunity to keep improving as a defense."
On his personal improvements over the last few games:
"Since the first game, I feel like I've improved a good amount as far as my focus, preparation and keeping my eyes where they're supposed to be."