Oklahoma State football coach Mike Gundy and selected members of the team visited with the media Monday in Boone Pickens Stadium to put a cap on last week's win over Savannah State and to look ahead to this week's game at Arizona. Some of their comments:
Head Coach Mike Gundy
"We're obviously back at it today. Day off for the players and then tomorrow, Wednesday and Thursday is practice. We'll leave just a little bit earlier than what we're accustomed to on a Friday to get out that far west and to get settled it. Try to get them acclimated a little bit to west coast time before the game Saturday night. This will be a good challenge for us. In watching the tape it's what we would expect from Coach Rodriguez's team. Their offense put up around 624 yards last Saturday night. Their quarterback threw for 360 and rushed for about 85. They had a tailback that rushed for about 150. Defensively, they play in the three down, which is something he must be comfortable with. He was that way at West Virginia for quite a while. Their nose guard is a big guy that's made some nice plays and does a good job at holding down two gaps. Their secondary moves around pretty well. This will be a good challenge for our guys to play on the road with some of the younger players to see how they handle being away from home. We definitely have our work cut out for us and we need a good week's practice."
On Wes Lunt playing his first road game and if that could have an impact
"No question. Most young players are familiar with playing at home. Family and friends and they've practiced in the stadium. So whether you're a freshman quarterback or a guy who's played here a few years, it's obviously very different playing on the road."
On remembering his first road game as a freshman quarterback and applying that to Wes Lunt
"The game's changed so much from back when I was playing. We would ask him to execute and distribute the ball to the guys on the offense who can make plays, play smart, take care of the football and not try to do too much."
On the tempo of the OSU starters during their limited time on the field vs. Savannah State
"We moved very fast. The one thing that I did mention on the radio shows this morning was that our offense was never challenged so we'll get a better feel not only this week, but the next three or four weeks with where we're at and how (Wes Lunt) handles the speed and the tempo of our offense. Also, the other receivers. There are young players out there that will have to make some adjustments. We should have a better feel in a month or so. Last Saturday night, he handled it very well."
On the ball distribution to the receivers
"We'd like to distribute as evenly as possible. It doesn't always work that way. It can certainly change week-to-week based on the defense's approach and how they want to defend us. Not only with who they can try to take away as a receiver, but also how they try to defend the run versus the pass."
On the added challenges of playing late and in a different time zone
"I think the players have adjusted to it because we've played in so many night games now. I know it's hard on the coaches. I know it's hard on me . I think it's more of an adjustment to the coaches than the players. They can handle those time changes better than we can as adults."
On OSU's success on the road in recent years
"There are a number of guys playing who have won a lot of games on the road against quality teams. The question gets brought up now because we have a new quarterback. On the road sometimes you go as the quarterback goes because he touches the ball every play. We would like to think that we have enough guys who have played on the road and have had success that it should help us and make it easier than what we would have gone through three or four years ago."
Offensive Coordinator Todd Monken
On the Savannah State game:
"The only thing you can take away from it is that we had 11 guys on the field. When we went tempo, we got lined up. Our process was good. A lot of young guys got to play. The reality is that you want to make sure you're playing good football. Our substitutions were good."
On what to expect in Wes Lunt's first road test:
"I have no idea. I don't know how he will handle being on the road. That is something that until you go and do it, you don't know. You prepare and try to convince him it will be the same thing. You don't have the crowd to pick you up. Your preparation is different. Where you stay is different. Hopefully he will be fine."
On having Jeremy Smith and Joseph Randle in the backfield:
"They're good enough to where you can hand it off to them in a bad box count, and they will come out of the other end. It is comforting knowing you have good running backs back there. We will rely on that. We aren't going to throw Wes out there and expect him to throw it 60 times to win."
WR Isaiah Anderson
On facing a higher-caliber opponent in Arizona this week:
"We've played Arizona for the past two years, so we kind of know what to expect when it comes to them. Every year brings a new challenge though, and we're ready for it. It almost feels like we are establishing a new rivalry with them. They always have a good defense and the defensive line is always great. They're very well-coached on that side of the ball, so I expect it to be a hard-fought game."
On the walk-ons and scout team players getting a chance to play:
"We hype them up a lot in practice. We depend on those guys a lot to give us looks during the week, and they did a great job. To see them actually get out there and get some playing time is nice."
On finally getting into game action after practicing all spring and summer:
"It feels good to get out there and play after we've been practicing for such a long time. We're excited about this season and the games coming up. We're hopefully going to get it together and have a great season."
On replacing many key members of the team over the past few seasons:
"I feel like we've always had guys who can step up at any time and be ready to play. The past two years, I've had Hubert Anyiam in front me, and he played phenomenally. I've just come to expect to go out there and play well whenever I get the chance. "
CB Brodrick Brown
On this year's team depending on new contributors:
"It's always a new team every year. You have different faces; guys leaving, guys coming and guys having different work ethics. You also have guys coming off redshirts trying to find a starting job and stuff like that. It's always a different perspective when you have a high-caliber team like us with a great recruiting class."
On where the team can improve following the Savannah State game:
"We watched the film, and there were some mistakes here and there. There were things I could have done. On one play, I could have gotten an interception, but the receiver made a great play and knocked it down. You just have to go out there and have fun, and that's what we did as a team."
On what he can take from playing Arizona last year:
"We know they have a new coaching staff, so a new offense, new defense and stuff like that. They have good tempo, they move the ball fast and they run some good plays. They do a lot of things that are successful for them, so we just have to keep watching film on them and maintain our edge."
On the jump in competition from Savannah State to Arizona:
"We prepare for every game like it's our last. We go out there and work hard. It's a new opponent, so we have to focus on them. Don't look in the past or what's in front of us. We have to focus on who we're getting ready to play. From a defensive perspective, they move the ball well, so we have to keep focusing on them and prepare for what they have for us."
DT James Castleman
On his first career start:
"I was extremely amped up. I played a little bit last year, but being able to start, there is nothing like starting."
"I am actually really excited for this week's game. I've been to Arizona a couple of times, and my mom grew up in Arizona, so I have seen them play quite a bit. I actually get to start against them this year."
On the absence of defensive coordinator Bill Young:
"We try not to make it seem like a big deal, but it was. Coach Young hasn't missed a game in a long time. It is different. We aren't used to not having him around. We got through it and will get through it."
On defensive graduate assistant Jermial Ashley:
"He did a very good job stepping up when Coach Young got sick. He is very chill and laid back. As long as we are doing our stuff right, he is cool. If not, he will get on us and push us."
On defensive accomplishments in Savannah State game:
"We played to our best ability. We didn't play at someone else's level. We played fast and kept hustling. We didn't slow down. We just kept playing hard."
LB Caleb Lavey
"It's assignment football. You have to have every guy doing his job and knowing what he's got to do because that'll get you. When someone blows an assignment, that's where the big gains are. Arizona is a good team, and they've got some good players. They've got a really good system with the way they run the ball and the way they pass the ball. We've seen a lot of that through the Big 12, and hopefully, we can hit this week hard. We have to practice hard and get ready for them."
On differences in Arizona following a coaching change:
"They're doing a little bit of run game. There are some passing things that are a little bit different. We have to watch some of the old Rich Rodriguez Michigan tapes to see some of the similarities and some of the stuff that's rolled over."
On Savannah State:
"I'm glad a lot of other guys got to play. It was really important that everybody get in there and get familiar with what we're going to be going through all year. To keep as many guys fresh as it did, it was really important. We're going to go into Arizona with our legs under us, feeling good."
On preparation for Arizona:
"That comes with the leadership of the defense and the mental approach we're going to have to take. We're going to have to start today serious and focused and make sure the younger guys understand that we can't just run into any game like we did with Savannah State. We're going to have to have a different mental approach and really push ourselves to figure out what we're going against."
DL Nigel Nicholas
On what the team gained from the Savannah State game:
"It definitely builds confidence. The younger guys got a lot of time. Any time the younger guys can get a little bit more experience, it's better for our team."
On what makes Oklahoma State such a good road team:
"We just treat it like any other game - like a home game. Just go out there, we've got to handle our business, stay focused, and take care of our fundamentals."
On what he expects from Arizona's offense:
"Arizona does pretty much the same thing that our offense does. We've been practicing against our offense all of two-a-days, and we're pretty adjusted to what our offense does, so we're just going to go out there and handle our business."
On the key to the Arizona game:
"Just focus on no missed assignments, because when you mess up, that's when they seem to break a big play. We've really got to work on our fundamentals and keep our heads in our playbook."
RB Joseph Randle
On the Arizona game:
"We're going to get ready this week and work hard. It's a late game so we're going to have fun and get ready for it."
On how he believes Wes Lunt will handle his first road game:
"He is a very mature guy and I think he will handle it well."
On being successful on the road:
"Our coaches have convinced us we can win anywhere and I think our players have really caught on to that."
On Desmond Roland's performance:
"He was given an opportunity and he took advantage of it."
On the running game:
"I feel like we can do whatever the coaches ask us to do. If they ask us to run it, we'll do it, if they ask us to pass block, we'll do it. We feel like we're ready for whatever."
OL Lane Taylor
On Wes Lunt:
"He carries himself well. He shows up to practice every day and just tries to get better. With the nature of being a freshman, there's just a lot to take in. He shows up and performs every day. You want someone who's going to work hard and try to get better. He can throw the ball. He's pretty accurate with it, and he makes hard decisions."
On replacing key players:
"There's been a lot of guys that have done great things here, and other people have to step up. It's good to see that the program is like that. Once we lose guys, other guys step up. The coaches are doing a great job with recruiting."