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Dean's Blog: Mike Gundy

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DALLAS -

The renewed optimism of Mike Gundy continued in Dallas today with the Cowboy coach confidently but comfortably saying that if his team stays healthy, gets good QB play and plays good defense, “we can win the conference.”

I asked Gundy if he could have ever envisioned the almost unbelievable turnaround: from where things were before the famous/infamous Bedlam Re-Kick – the coach unhappy, bad play on the field, an overall negative perception of the program – and where things are now – cheerfulness reigns, from Gundy himself, to the expectations from within the program, its fans and throng of media optimism.

He said the program has indeed come a long way in the last six months and spoke directly of an improved relationship with Football CEO Boone Pickens. Says his communication with Mr. Pickens is a lot better and that Cowboy Camp is excited about the future and pulling together again.

Gundy made strong points about why his defense should be much improved, essentially saying this: We did a lot of planning four years ago and allotted more scholarships on that side of the ball than offense and it’s showing up now. We have some players who people don’t know about that have been with us a couple of years. That second group of guys on defense that we’ve stressed the past couple of years should really help us now.

MASON LAYING BRICKS AND FOUNDATIONAL LEADER

He was asked why he’d name Mason Rudolph starter early and not let competition play itself out. Gundy said Rudolph’s ability to lead, his toughness, the way he ended the season. “We’re lucky to have JW Walsh and he’ll play a role this season. But we felt like it was important that Mason be named so he could become the leader of the offense.”

I asked Mike what makes Rudolph the QB who seemingly has big-time to upside. Gundy, who knows the position as well as any, deferred by saying it’s too early to tell. “We’ll know a lot more in one year.”

But he did list what’s most important to him. The former Big 8 record-setter said toughness and leadership are the priorities at OSU. Said film-study, understanding where the ball needs to go and avoiding mistakes, is critical. His block-of-granite QB in Rudolph has only the experience gained in the season’s final three games, but his efficient delivery and arm strength stood out to me. I imagine that’s the primary asset that separates Rudolph from the rest, but it was interesting to hear that Gundy’s priorities were more with leadership and toughness, and not how many RPMs the ball has when his big sophomore flings it downfield.

Another strong outing on the big stage in Dallas from Gundy.

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