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OSU Football: Gundy And New Assistants Preview Spring Ball

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STILLWATER -

Head Coach Mike Gundy

"We're very excited about spring ball and the new coaches. There has been a lot of talk about our football program right now. I'm looking forward to getting out there. This is a fun time for us, to get a chance to coach and be with the players. So many returning guys. Our new coaches are really good people, good quality coaches and have good personalities. I'm looking forward to getting out there today. We get three practices this week and then everyone is on spring break. Then, we'll come back and get three days a week for the next four weeks. We'll have a spring game on April 18 at 1 p.m. I'm excited about today."

On Daxx Garman:

"I know he is going to transfer, I don't know where. He wanted an opportunity to go somewhere. He's going to graduate this May. It'll give himself a chance to be a starter. I really want to thank him for everything he has done for Oklahoma State football. I think somebody is going to get a good player. He certainly didn't have opportunity here for success, but he gave us great effort, and I really appreciate everything he did for Oklahoma State football."

On Mason Rudolph in spring practice:

"He needs to just continue his leadership and his development. He has a lot to learn. We want him to have the ball in the right spot at all times depending on what defense we're seeing and be able to get the ball to the players who can make plays. He's done a lot with his body. I think somebody said yesterday that he is about 235-240 pounds now. He has really developed and grown. His temperament, his attitude, all of those things have been really good. He just needs to continue to progress, understand, take what the defense gives him and get the ball in the hands of the guys who can make plays."

On J.W. Walsh:

"He's awesome. He is out here in the off-season in February workouts. He is just like he was the day he walked on campus. He's going to get that percentage of reps in the spring that a backup would get, and then we'll have a package for him of things that we think he can do to help us that Mason really is not built for. For two reasons, one, we don't want him to; and two, because that's just not something he brings to the table. Mason is our starter. J.W. will get those backup reps, and then there will also be a package that he can give us that we think will help us next season."

On Jeremy Seaton:

"We'll limit his reps in the spring because we have a number of young fullbacks and tight-ends that we want to get a lot of work. Seaton is a veteran guy that has been around. He's going to play both positions for us. He is going to get limited reps in the spring, and these young guys are going to get a lot of work."

On Blake Jarwin:

"Jarwin is doing really well. Physically, he had a great offseason. He should be able to play an attached tight end for us. He should be able to play fullback for us. He should be able to play a detached wide receiver for us."

Offensive Coordinator Mike Yurcich

On the skills Todd Mays brings to the team:

"Well, he's played some tailback, and he's even played some quarterback. I'm assuming that he can run routes pretty well, too, so he's a guy that's very good with the ball in his hands. He's a play-maker, and I think he understands ball security. I think you'll see him thrive at those positions. We feel really good about our depth at quarterback, though, so I don't think you'll see him there as much. He is a play-maker, though, so we're going start him off at tailback and go from there."

On adjusting to having several new staff members:

"There have been some long meetings. You only have a week to get ready, and you want everybody to be on the same page. They have meetings to conduct, so they want to present their information to the players and be experts on whatever they're presenting on that particular day. It's been a fast week, and a fun week, as well. They're all great coaches. They've got tons of experience, and they're fun to be around. It's been a lot of fun getting to know those guys."

On how he feels about the offensive line heading into next season:

"Really good. We've got some experience, and we've got some tough guys coming back. We've got good leadership, too. It's time for us to get better at the fundamentals now, and spring is a great time to get better with those fundamentals and get as many reps as we can with the base concepts so that we can carry those into the fall.

Defensive Coordinator Glenn Spencer

On the state of the defense:

"Right now, I think we're just trying to figure out where we are, toughness-wise, effort-wise and motivation-wise. They're out there for each other. Along with that, we're trying to identify some depth. We have some tremendous competition, so that's going to be fun. Then, there's the play-makers. We have to identify the play-makers and make sure that those guys are the ones on the field. Hopefully, because of the depth, we'll get back to looking at some different sub-packages."

On returning several key members from last season's defensive unit:

"You know, it's a journey, not a destination, so everybody's at different levels with where they're at as far as how they fight through tough times and what their motivation for playing is. So, you take them all individually, and then you try to find out where your heart's at. Experience helps, and a lot of them have that experience, but a lot of them are also still so, so young. They don't realize where their ceiling is it. That's what I have to do, is make them realize that they're nowhere close to their ceiling. We've got to put them through some tough times and put them through some chaotic situations. You try to re-create as much as possible of what you're going to see in the fall."

On how Coach Hammerschmidt will contribute to the team:

"We haven't done anything on the field, of course, but the reason that we hired him held true, and he's a very knowledgeable guy. He played safety, so he's got a comfort level there, but he's also comfortable on the other side of the ball. He'll be the guy that says, 'They're doing this, and this is what they're going to do.' He's got a tremendous demeanor, and I think that will be conveyed to the players. I think he'll gain some immediate respect, mainly because of the man he is and his ability to motivate young men. I'm looking forward to getting to know someone new, and it'll be fun to watch what happens."

Offensive Line Coach Greg Adkins

On the quick turnaround:

“That's the toughest part. When you're coaching the offensive line, you're coaching five guys, which is the most on the field at one particular point besides the coordinator, who is ultimately responsible for everybody on that side of the ball. Getting that group together and learning the philosophy of how I'm going to coach and teach, those are the most difficult things. I think, for us as coaches, learning the system is a challenge. It's an ongoing process for us because of the quick turnaround from the time we got here until today. I think we'll adjust very quickly as coaches. We've been through these things before. I think it will take a little more time for the offensive line to fully grasp everything that I'll be looking for and what I expect out of them.”

On being the third coach in three years for the OSU offensive line:

“I believe in breaking it down into some simple steps, and I won't share those publicly with you, but we have four or five things we live by daily. If we can get good at those few things, generally you're going to see some progress in that offensive line. I think offensive line coaches make mistakes when they try to do too much too quickly and try to talk too fast. All of the different things that go with that position, you have to have attention to detail. The small things do matter. That will be the most important thing as we move forward.”

On working with college athletes after working with professional athletes:

“To me, there is not much difference. I had a great room in Buffalo, which makes it easier. Those kids that I had there wanted to learn and reach the pinnacle of their profession and be the best they can be. A true professional football player wants to be coached, as compared to some guys who are playing the game for the wrong reasons. I didn't have any of those, and that made it a little easier to transition for me.”

On the turnaround the OSU offensive line had at the end of the season:

“I can't speak for the whole season, but it's about continuity up front and as much as you can get it. You are going to have some changes because a guy may not be playing well or something of that nature, but I'm ultimately in charge of putting those five football players on the field at that position, regardless of what they have done in the past or what they did in high school. We're not just looking for the first five guys. We ultimately have to have No. 6, No. 7, No. 8 and No. 9 ready to play. Just because you're the backup left tackle on paper doesn't mean you're going to be the next guy that goes in if the left tackle is down. I'm a firm believer in challenging the guys, whether they're No. 1 or No. 15 on the roster. At the end of the day, you want to coach them all the same. I can't pinpoint what it was that made them better, but something must have come together to get things to tick and perform at a higher level.”

Running Backs Coach Marcus Arroyo

On his hiring:

"The reality of relationships in this business is really a key aspect. Probably the most direct connection is Todd Monken. He's one of my best friends in coaching. We've known each other for the past five years or so, so I felt that I have probably lived vicariously through some of the graduate assistants down there. I think what you end up doing in this world, in our coaching world, is that you move a little bit further and further above. You start directing your dialogues toward other places and guys that you've worked for, you want to get a sense of the environment and landscape of who you're working for, what it's like, what the talent's like, how are the coaches and the staff, how's the facilities, the people, the AD's, you end up doing that a lot as you move a little bit further in your career."

On coaching in the NFL compared to college:

"Sometimes the age isn't that far off. Sometimes you get guys when you come back to college that are as old as or older than the rookies, so the age thing is probably less of a determining factor. I think the maturity factor is big along with the absolute business side of it. You're more hands-on in college and you have more of a chance to develop guys off the field more directly in college. The NFL is great, it's very engaging, it's high-level, there's a big learning curve, it's a great opportunity to enhance your skills and a great opportunity more than anything. I think the chance to come back, work with college kids, develop them, get into homes and recruit and have a staff that you can get closer with is probably the common thread to guys in this right now."

On his experience working in the NFL:

"I'm not going to go too deep with that because I'm super focused on this place. I absolutely had a great experience, a very interesting situation, really, and I'm thankful for the opportunity to do so. I'm just glad that I have more knowledge and can simply come forth to continue learning."

Safeties Coach Dan Hammerschmidt

On how he has acclimated with the team:

"Well, it's still been a month, so I'm still getting acclimated. It takes a while to learn all the players, each in and out and each different step. Things run differently, but I've been on enough different ones to know how to adjust quickly. I'm still learning the players though, and that's the big thing."

On his impact with recruiting Jeff Carr:

“He's a heck of a player. He's a little undersized, and I'm sure that's why he didn't get recruited heavily, but he had a lot of people interested, and he is a good kid. His coach was a University of Houston guy, so that was a connection. He was a camp kid, so I knew a little bit about him. He's a good kid and a great talent."

On the advantage to flipping sides of the ball:

"I did it once after about 11 years when I coached defense. Then, I flipped over to offense and got the same kind of questions. I think it definitely helped going from defense to offense. I knew what defenses liked to do against wings, slots and motions. I think I helped for the first time back in '96 when I flipped, and now I'm flipping back again, so I'm sure it'll help. Things like splits and quarterback reads, I think I can help with that."

On the team's talent level:

"I've been out there watching and just trying to learn about the guys through the offseason program. I know one thing, and that's that Coach Glass gets after them, and they work. The main thing you want to see is if our guys are working and if they've bought in. There's no doubt I can see that from the guys. At the defensive back and safety position, [Jordan] Sterns has obviously played a lot. He's a tough kid. There's a lot of youth back there with a ton of potential. I haven't seen them in pads, but they had a good year last year, and you see a lot of potential. I don't know a lot about the depth or who can do what, but I know who can move around and change direction, and who can work. That's kind of what I wanted to see first, and then we'll go from there."

Tight Ends Coach Jason McEndoo

On the decision to coach at Oklahoma State:

"It was a very easy decision. When coach [Mike Gundy] offered me the job, I said yes. I think I said yes before he even finished his sentence. Since I got into college coaching in 2003 at Montana State, my entire philosophy hasn't been bounced around. To me, it is about the quality of life. It's not about quantity or how many places I have coached. It's about having the right opportunity for myself and my family. We loved Bozeman, Mo. It was a great place. We really loved the community and were a big part of it. So, for my wife and me, it was all about finding the right fit. We wanted to find the right fit. Being in Stillwater this past week showed us exactly the type of place we were looking for. My wife grew up big into rodeo and agriculture. My mother and father-in-law are ranchers. My kids do 4-H and show steers. So, most coaches pack their box and head down there. When we come down to Stillwater from Bozeman, we're going to have to pack up our three steers and bring them along with us. It's been great driving around Stillwater. The people have been great and we're really excited to be here."

On coaching with Greg Adkins:

“I think, number one, it's been awesome to work with him, you know, with the places he's been. I've literally just sat in the room, shut my mouth and just listened to him. I'll kind of right his coat tails a little bit. The tight end position and offensive line position are going to work hand-in-hand. One of the things Coach Gundy wants here is to be able to run the ball, and tight ends are going to be an intricate part of that. The fullbacks will be, also. So, being able to take that room and include them in the run game is going to be huge. I think one of the things I felt and was upfront in was the tight ends and full backs needing a room. In the past couple of years, they've bounced between the running backs coach and the inside receivers coach. To me, that group needed an identity. That group needed to hang its hat somewhere. There's lots of really nice meeting rooms over there, so this is actually the first time those guys get to sit in their own meeting room. We're going to meet as a group and we're going to build an identity together. They were like kids in a candy store. It's been great getting to know those guys. It's a dynamic group. I told the guys it's about as much offense as they want to give us, and the more they want to keep us on the field, that's awesome. So, we're going to take all the players that we can get. Last year at Montana State, we did a 12-personnel spread up-tempo offense, so I'm familiar with that. I'm just excited to really get going with this group."

On his career path:

"Well, anytime you can go from the Big Sky to the Big 12, thumbs up on that one. It's about the way you ride up. I think my path is probably a little bit different than some coaches. My path is probably like Coach Yurcich's situation a couple of years ago when we went from DII to here. Literally, I was sitting in my office that Thursday morning. l looked down at my phone and saw coach Mike Gundy calling, so I closed the door and took the call, of course. We had a great talk. He asked me three questions. First question was if I was available for a tight end/full back position, and I answered yes before he finished his sentence. The second question he asked me was if my wife wanted to move to Stillwater. Being a rodeo gal and having an agriculture base, we had studied Stillwater before, so I said yes, again, before he finished his sentence. The third question he asked was if my head coach [Rob Ash] knew what was going on, and I said he will after I get off the phone. He said, 'Great, I'll make some phone calls.' So, then time went by, and it felt like Jeopardy. I had the Jeopardy timer going on in my head. He called me later at two o'clock and offered me the job. I think I said yes, again, before he finished his sentence. It's been kind of a whirlwind. I don't think my feet have touched the ground since. In a place like this, every time I turn the corner I feel like a kid in the candy store with all the amenities we have here. Everything is available, but no matter what level you're at, whether it's Big Sky or Big 12, it comes down to the people. People make the place. Whether it's the community or the coaches or the support staff, it's been really awesome just to be a part of that.”

Wide Receiver David Glidden

On if this spring is more important for the players or all of the new coaches:

"That's a good question, and to be honest, I'm really not sure. I think it's important for both, for everybody to learn about each other and come together. We've been together for a week or two now since they've been here, but I think when you really get out there on the field and step in between the lines together is when you really find out about each other. I think that's going to be a key point in building relationships and becoming a unit together. There are new faces around, and you really have to adjust. That's really how the game is overall; you've got to make halftime or fourth quarter adjustments. It all ties in together whenever you look at the big picture. I'm excited. I like the new coaches that are around. They've been really good guys to be around so far."

On the change in the team's mood from early November to today:

"I'm glad it's that way. It's something that Gundy preaches to us all the time. You have your ups and your downs. It's going to be like that in football. It's going to be like that in life. I think in the big picture of things, it made this group a lot stronger. We went through the five win streak and we went through the five-game losing streak. We bounced back strong from that, and I think that shows a lot of character from those older guys from last year and even the guys that are coming back and are going to be leading the team in the locker room again. It's definitely some positive momentum that you want to have going in to the spring. Like I said, I'm glad it ended the way it did."

On the ultimate goal for this year's team:

"We have one goal and that is to be playing for a Big 12 Championship in our last regular season game. If that's where we're at, then it will work itself out."

Linebacker Ryan Simmons

On the importance of spring practices for the younger players:

"It's great for them. To have this time to get better, to learn more within the defense, offense, or whatever it may be, and just gain more confidence for when you're out there on the field. You want to gain that confidence when you're training and getting multiple repetitions out there against a fast-paced offense. They're going to give you many different looks, and you can work many different situations out within your mind. Just keep practicing and getting better. It's a great time."

On what he tries to do to improve during spring practice:

"I try to get quicker with my decisions and diagnosing plays. You can only get better. I just try and work as hard as I can each and every practice, and put my best effort forward."

On the opportunity to practice and gel as a team without the pressure of being in season:

"Just working out the kinks the first few days. As soon as the practices get going and everyone gets involved in learning their roles, everything should be fine."

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