Mike Gundy and his Oklahoma State players met with the media in Stillwater today. The Cowboys are preparing for Saturday's matchup with Tulsa at H.A. Chapman Stadium.
Below are quotes from the press conference, courtesy of OSU Athletics:
Coach Mike Gundy
"We felt like we improved as a football team after watching the tape from the Arizona game. Offensively, we were more efficient. Brandon Weeden really did a good job of setting his feet and had a good feel for what we were trying to accomplish and take what the defense gave us. Defensively, we tackled fairly well. I thought we were in the right spot for most of the game. We gave up a couple big plays on a stutter move. One time we had a blitz called and didn't get the blitz executed and put the corner on an island for a while. In the kicking game the three penalties is uncharacteristic for us. Those are things that we have to eliminate in order to be a good football team in that area. It was a good win for us; we're looking forward to this week. It will be a good challenge for us playing down the road here at Tulsa. Obviously they played very well last week. Their defense has been in the right spot and making plays. The quarterback is a good player and they're going to play fast and spread it around. It should be good for both schools. There should be a lot of people there and a lot of excitement when we kick it off if everybody can stay awake until nine o'clock."
On The Tulsa Series
"I'm okay with it because we've had it set up for a few years now. As I said a year ago I think it's good that we have an opportunity to play down the road. It gives them a chance to fill up their stadium and gives us a chance to fill up our stadium. It's good for college football when fans can get to a game fairly easily. Everybody is so busy now with their own life that with kids and such if they can get to a ballgame and enjoy it I think it's good for college football so I'm in favor of playing it."
On The Tulsa Game
"I think it's really good for the Oklahoma State people that they can get to the game. There is such a big following in the area that it becomes another home game for them. They can get there easy with a 20 or 30 minute drive and I'm guessing they will be tailgating with their friends so it's very fan-friendly."
On Jeremy Smith
"Jeremy is coming in fresh and running really hard. He's one of the young men I talk about that has really changed his mental approach to the game in the last 12 months. He enjoys playing football and he's bought in and he's grown up. He's a success story even up to this point. I really see both of those guys (Smith and Joseph Randle) the same in my eyes. I know Joe has more carries and more yards but when the other one is in it doesn't concern me. If you remember six or eight weeks ago I said I want those two to give us more than what one Kendall Hunter did. When Jeremy comes in, he's fresh. You have a defense that has played 30, 40 or late in the game maybe 50 or 60 plays, so their body is starting to taper down and he's fresh and he's running right through them. We like him in that situation because he's pretty powerful. He's low to the ground and he's 210 pounds."
On Alex Elkins
"Alex has done well. I really enjoy watching him mature and I think he'll be considerably better six weeks from now. He hasn't played very much football and so he's learning, but he's a very competitive young man and is tough and likes to play the game. He had an unfortunate situation where a guy got thrown into him and had scared him a little bit but he's doing better. We're expecting him to practice tomorrow. He's really fun to watch and he's eager to learn and eager to get better."
On Elkins Being The Best Player Gundy's Had At Weakside LB
"He's pretty athletic. Patrick Lavine and Justin Gent were good players but they had a stiff upper body. He's pretty flexible. He very well could be the best athlete we've had at that position."
Defensive Coordinator Bill Young
On Tulsa's offense:
"We played them last year, so we're pretty familiar with their talent. I coached at Tulsa for five years, so I know how emotional this game will be for them. We're expecting a heck of a fight."
On Tulsa quarterback G.J. Kinne:
"He's a very, very strong guy. He ran the ball really well against Oklahoma and Tulane. We saw him last year, so we know what kind of arm he's got."
On what the game means to Tulsa after having been a coach there:
"Just look at the record. I can't spit it out verbatim, but I think over there (at Tulsa), I think it's 31 total games and they've won 22 of them, or something like that. I know they've won the majority of them. (Tulsa) won when I was over there coaching. It's a tough place to play and they're very emotional about this game."
Offensive Coordinator Todd Monken
On Tulsa switching defensive schemes this season from a 3-3-5 to a 4-3:
"It's a completely different philosophy how they go about trying to defend you. What you see on tape: these guys will play hard, they're structurally sound and probably have more gap integrity. Teams that are more three-down, bringing guys off edges for more disruption, you're going be a higher risk/reward, whereas most four-down teams, they're going to be more consistent on how they approach it and not give up big plays and fit the run probably more effectively. So, you game-plan it a little bit differently, but again, that's probably the biggest difference."
On continuing to start quickly offensively:
"I think the biggest things start with each individual player. Everybody says, 'Start fast,' which there's not one team I've ever been on that didn't say, 'Hey, we have to start fast.' But how do you do that? Well, each individual player has to prepare each week leading up to the game what to anticipate, and then right at the get-go, they have to play their best football right out of the block. Every guy, it's up to them to start fast and then your team will start fast. And then I think you settle on things you do well and stick with that. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. I've never gone into a game not planning on starting fast and sometimes it's something you do or something they do that stops you. The first drive against Arizona, we had a third-and-six or seven, maybe eight, Josh Cooper just gets it. I didn't think he got a first down, otherwise we don't score three straight times. So there's a few plays within that kind of work your way, so that's basically the guys starting off fast individually."
Cornerbacks Coach Jason Jones
On how much familiarity he has with Tulsa after coaching there:
"Looking back, there's a few guys that were there when I was there. Some of them have graduated, but just knowing Coach Blankenship and coaching with Coach Blankenship, he's a guy who's going to recruit men that love football, they're going to work hard and they're going to compete. As we're preparing for this game, that's one of the things we know we're going to get from the time we kick it off until the final seconds tick off that clock, they're going to play until the end."
On the extra excitement of going against the team he formerly coached for:
"You always get excited when you get a chance to coach against somebody you worked with before, but we're approaching it just like it's any other week. Just because they're in Conference USA doesn't mean we're going to take them lightly because they've won a lot of ball games over there."
Running Back Jeremy Smith
On running the ball in the red zone:
"We have to be 100 percent in the red zone. The experience of the offensive line and our practice situations clearly show up in the game, so we have to be good."
On if the confidence of the offense running the ball has been higher than years before:
"Oh yes, everybody is more physical this year, knowing that when we are down there in the red zone we have to get it done regardless of the situation. And that's what we do."
On if a run call is more expected with the switch of offensive coordinators:
"I mean, he's one of those NFL guys, so you have to expect that."
Receiver Tracy Moore
On his confidence and playing ability:
"I kind of feel like I don't have much time left to be inconsistent, so I have to step up and start making things happen."
On the meaning of playing against Tulsa:
"It means a lot. Growing up in the area, my dad played there, there are a lot of old teammates who play for the team. You have to kind of blank that out of your head and realize that it's just another team. It's fun during warm-ups and after the game but it's just another game. You go down there and try and win."
On TU recruiting him out of high school:
"They definitely wanted to see me. Once Coach Niles left though, it was a no-go. My dad wanted me to go there, but he let me make my own decision, so I'm here.
Quarterback Brandon Weeden
On the Tulsa game this Saturday:
"We respect Tulsa. Our schedule sets up to where you can't overlook anybody throughout the entire stretch. It's literally the old cliché, ‘You have to take it week by week' because Tulsa can score a lot of points and they can play defense. We can't look forward to A&M, it's just our job to stay focused and take care of business."
On the possibility of starting out 3-0:
"It's tough. The one that stands out at me is when we lost to Troy in 07-08, everybody said it was a trap game, which it was, but those are the games that get you in trouble and can motivate you or really set you back in the conference."
On the TU game last year, and Justin Blackmon's performance:
"That kind of started the whole deal. He's able to have big games like that and stretch the field so much. That was the first time I really realized that he could go and get the deep ball. It kind of started everything."
Defensive Tackle Anthony Rogers
Do you feel as if your offensive line has helped you become a better player?
"Absolutely, I feel like if I can do a move on one of our offensive linemen and get past them, then I can do that on any offensive linemen."
How do you plan on stopping Tulsa's offense
"Up front, we have to stay focused and get good pressure on them. If we can get good pressure on them and get them off their rhythm, that would be great."
Have you been happy with the way the defense has performed thus far?
"Yes, but there is always room for improvement."
Offensive Linemen Levy Adcock
How fun is it to block for this offense
"It's a blast. Jeremy Smith, Joe Randle, Brandon Weeden, and the receivers all have the ability to go the distance on every play so that's really fun."