PFB - The Rundown: Gundy Talks Tulsa Delay, Calvin Bundage and More

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Feb 17, 2018
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After last week’s false alarm of a game week media availability, Mike Gundy went again Monday.

Gundy spoke with reporters for about 25 minutes ahead of his team’s postponed season-opening matchup against Tulsa. Here are all the points Oklahoma State’s coach covered.

On how the team reacted to the postponement

“They’ve had so many changes over the last few months I don’t think it affected them much at all. They practiced really well last week. Then we gave them Sunday off and [Monday] off, and then we’ll start again on Tuesday.”

On the team’s attitudes through the postponement

“I can’t really tell any difference. Over the last few months over all the different changes, they’ve seemed to handle them well. All I go off is practice, and their enthusiasm during practice has been just fine.”

On his piece of mind in regards to turnovers and special teams after having the extra week and scrimmaging Saturday

“I feel good about where our team is. Their enthusiam in practice has been excellent over the last few weeks. As a coach, you’re always concerned about the first game. I think you concern yourself with discipline, special teams play and turnovers. Those are the areas we try and stress in preseason and hopefully it’ll benefit us on Saturday.”

On if he is satisfied with special teams reps to this point

“We’ve had more than enough reps this preseason based on the delay and the format with the changes that have been made. We should be more than ready to play on special teams in my opinion.”

On Washington State transfer Tay Martin

“I would expect him to get an extensive number of snaps in Saturday’s game.”

On Martin coming from a similar-style offense

“The terminology is relatively similar, so it did help him in his adjustment to Oklahoma State.”

On if he talks to his players about playing in front of a less energized home crowd

“It’s obviously gonna be something new for everybody, so our players have to be able to self-motivate, relying on the enthusiasm amongst the team and coaches and focus on what’s happening on the field. I don’t think there’s any questions that teams use a home-field advantage to play to the crowd, and we’re not gonna have that this fall. Hopefully they can self-start and motivate themselves throughout the game.”

On how the extra week of preparation impacted the team

“Well, it gave us three more practices. We’ve had so many practices that we gave them off on Friday and then we gave them off yesterday and today. They’re just tired of practicing in my opinion, but the preparation in this sport and the physicality, it’s so important that we have to continue to push them through it. But we have allowed them to have more days off just recently because of the push back of the schedule.”

On if OSU’s staff has talked about how they can avoid upsets like Kansas State and Iowa State had

“I think it’s just preparation, and there’s been a level of how physical teams wanna prepare, what your limitations have been based on the virus back and forth. We’ve tried to push forward. We’ve tried to push hard. Dealing with the emotions of the players and continual practice and no games has been different. We’ve pushed hard and continued to do everything we can to try to get our players in a position where they can play an up-tempo, physical game to start the season.”

On if OSU has been as physical as ever in fall camp

“Yes, we have. We haven’t changed.”

On advantages of the extra week

“We had a few players that had minor injuries that we should get back this week. That’s an advantage. Certainly with Tay, another week of practice is an advantage for us and him as well. We’re dealt a hand, and we try to make the best out of it. It doesn’t make any difference because there’s a lot of uncertainty that we can’t control at this point. We tried to take advantage of as much as possible as we could with the extra week and then also give our players enough days off where they felt like they could recover from their body through the preseason and try to put them in the best position possible to play a game.”

On kicker Alex Hale

“He seems to have a really good demeanor, carries himself really well at this point. I’m sure he’ll have some nerves being the guy for the first time, but overall, he’s played really well. He’s competed, and I look for him to kick well throughout the season.”

On where OSU is in terms of roster numbers heading into the Tulsa game

“We’re at the same numbers we’ve always been. We carry 130 players on our team. … I mentioned this last week: Our medical group was on the cutting edge with what they did, and it just happened that Doc [Val Gene] Iven’s plan was essentially flawless and perfect from the fact that we brought them in as early as possible. We gained tons of information and learned throughout the process. We’re sitting here at zero. He’s been unbelievable. Guy should write a book on how to handle the virus.

“We feel very good. It can change. We’re testing three times a week. We’ll have to test again Wednesday and Friday. You ask me where we’re at now, I gave you those numbers. Can they change? Sure. Will they change throughout the season? I’m sure they will, but my point is the way that his approach, and the way it was handled within our athletic department has been fabulous. We’re very thankful to be in this position for a lot of reasons. Obviously the players want to play. They want to compete. Nobody wants to miss a game. Coaches don’t want to miss a game. And we have helped contribute to eliminating a lot of the virus in Stillwater and in the state, which is maybe a bigger impact than playing in the games.

“I was just very proud of our medical staff. As I continued to mention Doc Iven and the people, Scott Parker and John Stemm, in our building, there were times I disagreed with them, and they told me what we need to do, they were right. They were dead on. For that reason, we’ve contributed to elimination in our bubble, for lack of a better term, of the virus. At this point, we’re sitting here at zero. Their plan worked, and it was flawless.”

On his expectations for Calvin Bundage coming off his surgery

“Any time you’re dealing with an injury of a contact sport with a player in their back, there’s a lot of uncertainty. I don’t know that anybody can predict what direction that will go. I was hoping that Calvin could come back and play for him, moreso than the team, just based on for a coach, it’s just tragic when you see a young man that can’t compete anymore if he still wants to play the game. I’ll be honest with ya, we haven’t had a lot of luck with back injuries. Going back over my 31 years in college football, you don’t see a lot of guys come back with that type of injury. How severe they are, I don’t know because with back injuries it’s hard to really tell.

“I’m really excited for him. His attitude and his posture and demeanor over the last two months have been fabulous. He’s smiling again. I’m just happy that he gets to get back on the field because he loves to play football.

“As with any injury [there is cautious optimism], but specifically when you’re dealing with a back. You just kinda hold your breath. I was holding my breath with him until I saw him get into some tackles and contact in practice. I was hoping that he would be there tomorrow and kinda push through it, and he’s done well.

“So, you’re always a little cautious just based on an injury to a player, and hopefully it’ll hold up and he can play the season. It’s really kinda changed his life just getting back on the field.

“We play two-deep on defense, and he’ll get as much football as he wants. He’ll be in there playing and competing right from the start.”

On if there are areas in Tulsa’s team where he expects the Hurricane to be especially strong

“They’ve got wide receivers who can go up and get the ball. They put them in the inside slot position, and they do a nice job of play/pass and double moves and such. I would expect them to attack us in that area.

“Defensively, they’ve replaced a number of guys, but they’ve got backers that can run, and their nose guards have played well. So, I would expect them to be ready to play. Those are some areas where we know who they are based on the returning players from last season.”

On his views on playing Tulsa

“I think it’s a really good series. We had this discussion a few years ago with Coach [Mike] Holder and I in making a decision on what direction we wanted to go with a long-term series with Tulsa, reopen the game. I think it’s a really smart move to for a lot of reasons. I think it’s good for both fans. I think it’s good for the state. It’s a good game in my opinion and one that people locally can enjoy.”

On powering through on-campus COVID outbreaks

“I think people have to understand, you’re gonna get an on-campus number with the virus, then you’re gonna get a number that’s in our bubble. There’s some confusion on those numbers based on our players have been educated since the month of May, for the most part, to protect themselves and how to improve, and through time, they’ve grown and have improved. That’s why I mentioned earlier the plan that our doctors had to bring people in as early as possible so we could learn from this and teach and educate has been fantastic. I would say that over the next few weeks, you’re gonna see on the campus where those students will learn just like our players learned. We’re a few months ahead of them because of the time of coming in.

“The positives that came from on-campus never really concerned me from a standpoint of us playing football.”

On what his son, Gunnar Gundy, does these days

“Well Gunnar’s in school. Gunnar’s a student. He is training, just like he would any other year, but he’s just a student. … He’s not on the field with us.”

On when he started to hear that the Tulsa game was going to be postponed

“I wasn’t involved in any of that. I just had gotten a text message that the game was postponed and was trying to reschedule for a week later. I wasn’t even involved in the discussions.”

On if he understood the reasoning behind the postponement

“I haven’t even been told. I’ve just heard what you guys have. Nobody even actually told me the reason. Other than I was assuming it was because of the virus, but I never asked and nobody told me.”

On what has allowed him to talk so confidently about OSU’s defense

“I’m not sure what the players have said. I haven’t followed that, and now I’m not really sure what I said other than I like the depth and the speed and the maturity and enthusiasm of our defense, which in most cases generally leads to a team that’s willing to play hard for each other. I think that’s where they’re at. Preparation is very, very, very important, but at some point they gotta go play. They gotta get results, compete. That’s what we’re looking for next. That’ll be the true telltale sign in the direction we go as a defense.

“They have to go play. I think I said because of the depth and because of the experience we have if we stay healthy, they’ll have a chance to be the most successful group we’ve had. Statistically, I don’t know how you find that out. I’m just going off the experience and depth we have at this time. If they stay healthy and continue to play hard together, then they’ll have a chance to be a very successful group.”

On how comfortable he feels having depth in a year like this

“I think in a season with some uncertainty based on the direction that players could go with the virus is that when you have more mature players that have competed in game-like situations as a coach you feel more comfortable. Obviously, I can only speak for myself, but I don’t think that any of us feel comfortable as coaches whenever we send guys out on the field that haven’t played at this level for the first time. We shouldn’t have many guys out there this year on the defensive side of the ball that are in that position.”


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