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OSU Media Day: Quotes From Coach Mike Gundy

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OSU coach Mike Gundy addressed the media on Saturday in preparation for the upcoming season. Here's what he had to say:

Opening statement:
“I’ll be brief since we haven’t really done a lot since the last time I visited with you guys. The first few practices have all gone well. We went in full pads today. I like our excitement and our players’ effort, and I like the way that our newer coaches have adjusted to our team. We have a long way to go. We’ve got to get a considerable amount of work done in practices eight through about 20. Usually around (practice)14, we have to start making decisions on players that would compete as a freshman and the others that would redshirt. Our preseason activities have stayed just about the same. We’re moving forward. It’s been good up to this point.”

On strength and conditioning coach Rob Glass’ impact on the team over the summer:
“He did a good job, as always. The players looked really good. Some of the second or third-year guys have really developed. Jimmy Bean, a fourth-year guy, is up over 250 pounds. Chad Whitener is up over 240. Trey Carter came in here at 225, and I saw that he’s at 275 now. The team looks really good.”

On the development of Victor Salako and Zachary Crabtree:
“Victor would be a little bit ahead of Crabtree. He’s more experienced, but Zach is working hard. Both of those guys should really improve during the middle of the season. Victor obviously has more experience and has made the adjustment, but those guys both continue to work hard. They have great attitudes. They’ve been good leaders for us. If they continue to do that, we should see some good improvement from both of those guys in what would be game one through up about game five or six.”

On the importance of the offensive tackle position:
“In college football, the defensive ends have gotten so much bigger and stronger, and they’re really active with run blocking and protecting the quarterback. No matter what your offense is, you’ve got to be able to hold those guys off. It’s very important. We went through a phase last year where we were very average at those positions, and that made it difficult to move the football.”

On Mason Rudolph’s growth:
“In the last two or three practices, he’s been good with getting the ball in the hands of the players that the defense has allowed us to take advantage of offensively. I think that’s the most important part of his progress in the second year. He’s going to make some plays and make some mistakes, but he needs to minimize those by not trying to make too many big plays. Just take what they give him.”

On certain players catching his attention:
“There are guys that are making plays out there. We’ve got a couple freshmen that have shown up and made a play or two. (Jeff) Carr is making some plays. Michael Hunter, who we knew about since he’s older, has shown up and made some plays. During the times that I’ve watched him, he seems to be playing really fast. Blake Jarwin. You guys obviously knew about him, but he has shown up and made some plays. Dylan Harding is running around better. We had to play him last year, and he was 178 pounds. Now he’s 190. I like what he’s doing out there. The biggest jump will take place in the 10-to-20 area, practice-wise.”

On Jeff Carr and his ability to make an impact as a freshman:
“I think most people thought, with his size that he would be guy that would redshirt, but as he progresses through the next eight or 10 practices, if he’s able to absorb information, function out there with the team, stay healthy and give you the ability to make a big play, then you have to look at putting him out there. We’ll know a lot more in a week or so. Up to this point, he has done fairly well.”

On developing team leadership:
“Mason (Rudolph) is still young, as you mentioned, but he’s pretty far along in a leadership role. Zachary Crabtree, Ryan Simmons, (Brandon) Sheperd, (James) Washington, (Jeremy) Seaton, (Emmanuel) Ogbah, Seth (Jacobs), (Kevin) Peterson and (Ashton) Lampkin are all guys who display good leadership skills. It takes everybody to carry the group. It’s obviously important that your quarterback is a person who can help lead, unlike last year, when we had so many young players that hadn’t had a lot of experience and success. Even with as good as Ogbah was last year, when we started the year he wasn’t in that role. He was somewhat unknown. So we’ve got a number of guys now that have stepped up and are allowing us to have good team chemistry and are leading the team. “

On what he expects out of the team’s leaders:
“Just their practice habits. The way they communicate with other players. Their attitude in the locker room and over at their apartments where they live. Their attitude at the training table. Those guys have to do a good job when the coaches aren’t around. That’s really important. When you have an extremely young football team that’s not experienced, they don’t know how to lead themselves at times, much less with others. That’s really where we expect them to help us with the team. As coaches, we’re going to push them hard and try to put them in situations that are not comfortable. They have to react in the right way and accept the responsibility of making sure the team will understand. If you stay the course when you buy in, good things are going to happen for everybody on our team. That’s really what we expect from guys that are trying to lead.”

On J.W. Walsh and Mason Rudolph working with Zac Robinson over the summer:
“I think it helps. Certain former players have the ability to teach, instruct and coach. In my opinion, I think there are a number of people out there that aren’t really fit for the development of young people at this level. There’s a considerable difference in training J.W. Walsh compared to training a 10-year-old. Zac is a self-made player. I don’t know if we had stars back then, but he wouldn’t have been much more than a two-star. He came in, worked hard and maximized his potential. He was a student of the game, and he’s very intelligent. So he can pass that on, and I think it’s beneficial for our players to have a former player like Zac, who will do it for all the right reasons.”

On the experience of the offensive line:
Earlier, we talked about Victor (Salako) at left tackle. He hasn’t played here, obviously, but he has played in a number of college football games. He’s got some talent, and he should help us. (Brad) Lundblade, who we played last year when he wasn’t ready to play, has that experience and is bigger now. He’s 295 pounds or somewhere in that area. Actually, he’s up to 310. Then, Paul Lewis can play a guard or center spot for us so he has some experience now. We have (Zachary) Crabtree back. He missed five or six games during the year. That really set us back, but he’s an experienced player now. We have Jesse Robinson, and he’s played for us before. Michael Wilson is in there. These are all guys that, last year, were just thrown into the fire. Now at least they have some experience. So it gives us a head start on trying to find seven linemen. We feel like you have to find seven linemen who can play in order to have a good season, protect the quarterback and give yourself a chance.”

On the expectations for this year's defense:
"If we can get good defensive tackle play, we aren't very experienced in that position, and have young guys contribute in Vince (Taylor) and Motekiai (Maile) to hold their own and develop and if we stay healthy, the depth that we have will allow us to play with a lot of speed, which in most cases results in more turnovers. We do have more experience in those positions now compared to when we were out there with young players. We have a chance to be pretty good out there on defense. I'm really excited about watching them play. Their practices and their aggressiveness have been good up to this point."

On the defensive ends and cornerbacks on the roster:
"It's a big time bonus for us. For the first time, we're two deep at the corner spot and with Ogbah, I would think there will have to be adjustments made on offense to find where he is on the field. We have to when we compete against him in practice. We have to know where he is. Unless teams we're playing are a lot better at (offensive) tackle than we are, in most cases they have to identify him and be aware where he is on the field, which means the other guys are going to get single blocks most of the time. That's an advantage when you have an end like him who can make plays. Jimmy Bean has been around forever and is bigger and his attitude has been great over the last year so he should be able to contribute on the other side."

On having a road game to start the season:
"Because we're traveling a little farther than we're accustomed to, we'll leave a few hours earlier on the Wednesday prior to that game. For the most part it won't change what we do."

On practicing in extreme heat:
"They're holding up really well. We have an advantage with our facility. We have them outside and really push them to the limit, then we'll bring them inside to finish practice. Myself and Coach (Rob) Glass, Kevin (Blaske), the medical staff, Bill Clay, Darrell Wyatt and some guys that are watching practice are trying to keep an eye on the players and get a good feel for where they're at. We've got the GPS system now where we're tracking them so we can get a feel for where their bodies are. We're going to have enough heat to push them to the limit. We had some two-a-days or some preseason practices before where it was a little cooler than we wanted because we weren't sure we could push them, but this is allowing us to push them and then bring them back inside and revitalize them with fluids. I'm really happy where we are. We've got two more days of this and then it's going to drop down into the low 90s, which will fine because it's a little cooler, we can leave them outside longer. We now have that flexibility with our indoor facility."

On the expected tempo of the offense:
"We'd like to play the entire game fast. We should be able to play faster now that we're more experienced. The quarterback has a better feel for it. Our offensive line played as big of a role in that as anybody last year. If you go fast and they're confused about what they're doing, then it doesn't look very good. So we should be able to play faster. Our goal is to get 80 plays in a game. If things go well, we're firing on all cylinders and our scheme is good, then we'll hit 90."

On Mason Rudolph's ability to extend plays:
"He's done a good job of it in the three games he's played, and he was doing that at 218 pounds. He's 228 now so he's obviously stronger and a little more experienced. What I hope for is that he continues that because that's not something you can coach. Guys can either escape and get away or make a play or they can't so hopefully he can continue that."

On carrying momentum from the end of last season:
"We live in an age of technology, media resources and Internet. There's so much communication that the advantage is that when things are going good, it just continues to carry on. The world we live in with phones and all the information the players get makes them feel better. That has carried over. There's just a good attitude among the team, the people involved with Oklahoma State football and the fans."

On true freshmen playing last season:
"We've talked about that, and until we get up into that last week, we won't plan on that. But if we get to the last week and we have a young man who we used his freshman year and he's behind a couple of veteran guys and his numbers could be limited, then we wouldn't burn him on special teams and use him at a point in the game where he may be able to get that year back. Which would help him from a maturity standpoint and would help us and those discussions are taking place."

On the discussions about redshirting players:

"It's us being honest with them and that they didn't really get that year to develop. What you'll do is put that young player who doesn't redshirt his freshman year, he loses that extra time in the weight room because during the season he's trying to get ready to play in the game and so he can't devote himself to four to five days of a heavy workload. His physical workload is limited based on getting ready to play on Saturday, and there's a point where that can almost become a necessity for a college football player to get that extra workload during their time. It doesn't always happen that way, but it's beneficial. So we're just honest and if a player said 'I want to play', then we're going to play him because ultimately it's their career, but we offer our opinion on what we think is best."

On having many special teams players returning this season:

"I thought Robbie (Discher) did a great job coaching special teams last season. We ended up really high in our league with a lot of young players. Sometimes he would play on that unit in a week seven or eight freshman, and that's hard to do. So those guys are now mature. We went over our special teams depth chart, and we're going to go over it again in the morning. We'll do it again in a week based on which freshman we think will actually play so we can start working them in and getting them some reps in at least one unit of special teams. We should be better because we have experienced players and when you have the youth there's risk and when you have the experience we have on those coverage units and return units, they understand because there's an art to playing special teams. There are guys who have been really good special teams players because they have a feel for it and they put the time in and understand taking good angles, walling off a defender, all the little things that are important. So those guys that had reps last year certainly should be better this fall."

On recognizing the value of graduate transfer players:

"Obviously Tyler Patmon did a lot of things for us. We realized that if you bring in a player, and I wouldn't know how you would rate it, let’s just say you were rating him from one to 10 and in somebody's opinion when Tyler came out he was a five. If he comes into our program and he's successful and he feels good about himself and the attitude is good, we can make him a seven just from that transformation. We're all that way. That's the way we are about everything we do in life. So he came in and started playing really good, and he was smart and started playing multiple positions, — obviously he's still in camp with the (Dallas) Cowboys now. He really helped our football team and at that point we realized the importance of experience. We've all known that experience is key to a good football team, but now we bring in a young man that's done two things. One, he's played a considerable amount of games in his career at another school. Two, he's already graduated from college. He's disciplined enough to get to class and graduate and so there's something to be said about him. So we realized that was important and then we bring (Josh) Furman in, and it was good for us and then we were contacted by (Michael) Hunter and we get contacted by a lot of people now. I guess that's a long answer for the experience and them already being mature enough to graduate gives them a chance to play at this level quicker than a younger player, but you have to have a scholarship and you have to have the numbers and fit the 85 and meet the NCAA's restrictions and all that so it's not like you can just bring in a number of them. If they fit and they're willing to come and jump in and our team does a good job of bringing them in and not making them feel like they're an outsider, they can jump in and do real well early."

On creating the best lifestyle in college football:

"When you look at what our players have here, and in recruiting you guys follow it and see it, most schools that we play against are building new facilities. Things are new now. Everybody is upgrading. Cost of living is involved. For us, we have everything in place and we have a setting where there is coaching and teaching going on and we understand that we want the players to enjoy their four years or five years here. We want them to have fun, and we're trying to do everything we can to benefit them when they leave here and not feel like they were miserable for those four years and they're glad they're gone. It's not different than when we were growing up in elementary, junior high and high school playing sports and going to class. We have kids that have teachers that are excited about going in and learning and some teachers that they don't want to be around because they give them the impression that it's not fun. We've tried to create that environment here where our players enjoy and have that great everyday college lifestyle. Our administration here, you know one thing with Coach Holder is that we don't cut any corners when it comes to taking care of our athletes. We maximize every little thing that we can to make their lifestyle better. So we've come a long way in 10 years in developing a great lifestyle for a college football player or student athlete.”

On expectations from the running back position:

"Well I think there is two ways to look at it. A running back can have a good year and not get many opportunities based on the way they play so it's like defensive statistics. I've said this for two or three years, and I keep thinking someone is going to grab it and run with it. They still put up on the TV screen yards-per-game and average-per-play or whatever that is. It's completely opposite of what it should be defensively in statistics. It should be points allowed per possession. Like our defense, when we were rolling offensively here in those years, our defensive coaches and our team were facing about 16 or 17 possessions a game. There's teams in the league and other leagues that only face 10, or 11 or 12 possessions, so obviously they have a better chance to score points against us than they do against them. Well it's the same thing with a running back. We struggled last year because of our yards-per-attempt. It ended up at 3.5. It needs to be up around five. The number of times we run the ball, if it's up around five, we're going to be successful. In most cases, and with the balance of our offense, we'll have a guy, or guys, that will combine to rush up there around that number (1,200 yards). That's kind of the way we look at it.”

On Chris Carson being Big 12 Newcomer of the Year:

"He's done really well up to this point. It's way too early. I mentioned it the other day and so I'm kind of repeating myself, but Coach (Pat) Jones used to always say this, "We'll talk about it after they've been in 12 to 15 practices in 100 degrees, and they've been hit a bunch. Then come and ask me if they can be a running back." Up to now though he's doing good. He's able to absorb information and put it out there in a live setting. He's been hit some, but not a lot. We haven't pushed him like we're going to push him over the next 10 practices, and we'll see where he's at. He is quick. He does have good feet. He does have acceleration. And if he continues on, what'll help us is it will make Rennie (Childs) better and it's going to keep Rennie (Childs) fresh. Then we have to come up with that third (running) back, whether it's Raymond (Taylor) or Jeff (Carr), and that's what we've done here in the years when we've been really good and something we need to accomplish this season.

On receiving feedback from players who have received scholarships:
“It’s good. We all like to give things away. As a coaching staff, when we have an opportunity to reward those guys and their parents, it’s great knowing that they won’t be receiving a tuition bill. It’s a lot of fun. I think we’re going to have one, maybe two more to give out before school starts. We should, but we’ll have to wait and see how things fall. There has been great feedback from the parents. The ones that did it have earned it. They put their time in, and they earned it. It’s good that we can reward young men for working hard.”

On if he would rather play on the final weekend of December:
“There are two ways to look at that. When we have the open date on Thanksgiving and we play, I think it’s good for our conference. I think it’s good for the state. It makes for an interesting game, but it doesn’t tie in with the NCAA’s recruiting calendar. They give us, let’s say 14 days, to recruit prior to the dead period in December. If you are selling a product to earn a living, and you had to do that to pay the bills, if someone came to you and said ‘Hey, you only have 14 days to sell vacuum cleaners,’ it would concern you. That’s really what happens, and that’s really the only way for me to answer that question. If they adjusted the recruiting calendar to fit championship games in other leagues and fit what our league’s trying to do, it’d be good. It just doesn’t fit with the way the recruiting calendar is. So, the risk is not good. Somebody is going to see these guys. That’s a contact period. They’re seeing them face-to-face, and we’re not there unless we decide to just go out and recruit and not be prepared for our game that week. That’s my only concern about it. I made the suggestion three years ago that they need to adjust the calendar based on what everybody is trying to accomplish. There are obviously people up higher than me that don’t see it that way, but why wouldn’t you? The teams that are playing at that time shouldn’t be cut out of recruiting because they’re playing well and winning. Other people will say, ‘Well, if you’re winning, it doesn’t matter.’ Well, it does matter. It’s not as easy as they think. So, they need to adjust that calendar to where it fits that weekend for everybody in the country. They could just make it set, and then I think that everybody would want to play that weekend.”

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