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OSU Football: Gundy And Players Look Toward West Virginia

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STILLWATER -

Mike Gundy met the media at his weekly press conference on Monday to preview Oklahoma State's upcoming road trip to West Virginia. Here's what Gundy and crew had to say:

Mike Gundy

Opening statement:
"We've got another week ahead for our players. We had a good workout last night, and we had today off, obviously. We were pleased with our game last week. Most of our postgame comments were accurate, especially in that the defense did a nice job of adjusting at halftime. I think it was a surprising first half for most people. Both defenses had played really well, even with that many touchdowns having been scored in the first half. I guess that's the great part of college football. Everything's exciting, and you never know what you're going to get from week to week. We're moving forward. We feel like we're still somewhat of a fresh and healthy football team, which is important. Defensively, we're tackling better. Offensively, we've still got to find a way to run the football and be a more balanced team. We have a lot of work ahead of us, and I'm just looking forward to the week and heading out to Morgantown."

On playing at West Virginia:
"You know, it's interesting. If your team is playing well and you've got good players, then you can play just about anywhere. If you're kind of in the middle of the road, playing on the road can be difficult. I think we're in-between right now. We're gaining some experience in some key positions, but we're certainly not at the point we were at years ago when we had a really experienced group. Each game is different. It's certainly a little more challenging to play on the road, but I think we're developing some confidence with this team. We've played fairly well on the road over the last eight or 10 games, so we're looking forward to the challenge."

On succeeding on third down:
"We're a little better up front. Our quarterback is a little more experienced, and I think we have a good group of receivers, which is helping on third down. For that reason, we're able to stay on the field longer. Last year, we had more three-and-out's than we had in a long time. I don't know exactly what those numbers were, but I don't think anybody had to look it up. You could feel it. So, that improvement has really helped our football team with converting drives, staying on the field and finding a way to get points. Some of those this year have been on fairly long third downs. Last year, we were in a world of hurt. We weren't in very good shape. We have improved in that area, yes."

On OSU and West Virginia being the top two defenses in the conference:
"They've really improved. We thought they got better last year. They gave up some numbers, but they were a good defense. We all can be exposed at certain times. That's one thing that's interesting about college football, and not just in this league. I don't watch a lot of games, but sometimes I track scores. If you take a look across the country, you can have a good year, but you can get exposed a couple of times each year by one team's game plan being much better than yours, playing on the road and so forth. Other than a few points in one of their earlier games before playing Oklahoma, they didn't give up a lot of points at all. They've been very sound. Their safeties are playing really well. They pressure some successfully, and they've been good against the run up front. Here, we've pushed hard the last four years to try and build enough depth, speed and strength to perform at a high level on defense. I think that it's working. Statistically, it is for us now. From this point on, we're going to play some really good offenses. We'll see where we're at, but I'm fairly confident that our defense is better than what it has been."

On having a top 25 scoring offense despite the team's run game:
"I think the staff is doing a great job. I'm usually a grim reaper on Monday mornings, and I know they don't usually look forward to me coming in there, but I try to be as up front as possible. My message to them this morning was that I thought they did a really good job last week in the situation we were in. Our goal was to find a way to rush for 100 yards with playing some younger and more inexperienced backs. We didn't accomplish that, but we had a plan in the throwing game to give us a chance. We've done a good job of not exposing the areas where we are deficient. In order for us to play as well as we need to, we have to find a way to rush for 150 yards a game. Now, the flip side of that is, people say, 'Hey, just forget it and throw it 60 times a game.' I'm not comfortable with that. That's just me. I believe in balance, so we will continue to work and find ways to rush for 150 yards a game. I'm very pleased with the schemes, philosophy, play-calling and coaching on that side of the ball."

Offensive Coordinator Mike Yurcich

On West Virginia’s defense:
"What an experienced defense. They have seven starting seniors and all three of their linebackers are seniors. They are also very athletic in the secondary. Their safety, Karl Joseph, is one heck of a player who plays free safety at times for them and covers the entire field. We have to be aware of where he is at. He has five interceptions to date. They also have a unique ability to play an eight-man front to take away the run, but also drop eight in coverage."

On running the ball against Kansas State:
"I think Jeff (Carr) and Raymond (Taylor) did a heck of a job. You have to give them a lot of credit. Raymond was running on the goal line as physical as you can get. He made some good runs and tough yardage down there at the very end. Kansas State was second in the conference in rushing yards, so we knew they were stout."

On short, intermediate passing:
"It's an extended handoff or can be. You're alleviating the amount of time an offensive lineman has to sustain a block. Your quarterback has to be accurate. There has to be some sort of rhythm to it with everybody on the same page. I wouldn't say it substitutes for a run game, but it sure wears down and helps neutralize the defense."

Defensive Coordinator Glenn Spencer

On West Virginia’s offense:
"They definitely want to run the ball and they've proven that over and over again. I think he's an excellent play caller and that they have a physical line. He is going to have the threat of getting over the top of that any time in the play action pop series, which is always dangerous. He knows all of that is set up off of being able to bust a five to six-yard play. I think he has a good combination success on how to move the ball."

On defensive schemes:
"Depending on the situation of a normal down and distance, it's the equivalent of baseball and getting ahead of the count. Any time you can get it second and nine or 10, negative yardage, then the advantage starts coming to us as far as being able to play some things and look into their tendencies on certain downs and distances. We have to count on those explosive plays for us going forward."

On familiarity with WVU’s offense:
"They're scheming for us just like I know we are for them. I know he's looking at his scout just like we do. There's a line where you have to decide whether you break a tendency and look at yourself to find what you do best and execute best, do it and make them stop us."

Defensive End Emmanuel Ogbah

On the defense’s performance in the second half against Kansas State:
“It was crazy the turnaround we had. Coach Spencer had a good game plan. After halftime, we went out and executed that game plan he had for us. We just went out there and did what Coach Spencer wanted us to do.”

On the locker room at halftime:
“We know that was just the first half. We have another half to play. There’s still two quarters left in the game. There’s no point in getting on to other people. We just need to fix the errors we made.”

On West Virginia:
“I like playing against an offense that shows us two sides of themselves. Two years ago, they beat us while we were undefeated, so it’s going to be a challenge for us having to go to their field and beat them. It was just like when we played Texas with a 95,000-plus crowd. We just have to go out there and do what we can do to win.”

Safety Jordan Sterns

On the key to getting so many tackles:
“I don’t know what it is. I think it’s just I run to the ball and try not to give them too many chances to make a move and just wrap up. I think that’s the best way to do it, especially with guys in the Big 12, who are fast and make people miss. That’s pretty much my key to it.”

On the team’s second-half efforts:
“Coming out into the second half, we just make those adjustments that we need. The last couple of weeks, it hasn’t been major adjustments. It was things we knew, we practiced and things we saw on film. We just had to correct those real fast. We came out and executed the game plan, and the rest is history.”

On how the Kansas State game has prepared the defense for West Virginia:
“Kansas State is a great team. They play by the book and they’re well-coached. That automatically helps playing a team like that. Also having to play the run, that’s going to become an advantage as well when it comes time to play West Virginia on Saturday. It’s about playing fast, making tackles, getting on the field and getting them down.”

Running Back Raymond Taylor

On his touchdown against Kansas State:
“I had to make sure the coaches could stay confident in me in those types of situations. As I got stopped the first time, I was thinking, ‘This can’t happen. I never know how many times I’ll get the ball down there.’”

On West Virginia:
“I see that they’re a well-coached defensive team. They have good backers. They’re a good team. The best we can do at this point is to prepare to watch film, prepare to identify what they’re the best at doing and counteract that.”

On preparing for the WVU crowd:
“It will be a loud practice facility with a lot of music and a lot of distractions to keep us up-tempo and make sure that we can stay focused with all the crowd interactions and noises. We’ll be prepared in that sense. We just have to stay focused.”

Linebacker Chad Whitener

On his development since coming to OSU:
“I’m a lot stronger. That redshirt year helped me a lot. The stuff that we do on Fridays is crazy, and I love it. Getting as strong as I have has really helped me on the field and also with the speed development stuff we do too.”

On preparing for games:
“Coach Spencer has talked to me and he’s told me to always be ready because you never know when somebody is going to go down or when you’re going to get put into play. You can’t be the loose piece, so I try to stay focused. I watch a lot of film. I go over our game plans. I know what all the checks are and everything. I really focus on understanding the game plan in and out so if my number is ever called, then I’m ready to go.”

Quarterback J.W. Walsh

On the team’s status heading into a road game at West Virginia:
"We're a confident football team right now. We haven't won exactly how you would want to win, but coming away with two close victories early on in the season is going to help our football team in the long run. We have a lot of experience with those games and having it under our belt is going to help on the road in a tough place like West Virginia. Having the experienced guys on our team is a big part of that."

On West Virginia:
"There is a lot of familiarity between the coaching staffs I would assume. The past years, they've had our number. Two years ago, we went up there and didn't play very well and then last year it went the same at home. This year, I think it's going to be different. We have a good football team, playing well and just need to make sure we stay poised and composed on the road."

Receiver Austin Hays

On short pass conversions:
"I think right now it is our sweet spot. The past two weeks, we've been really efficient on third-downs. We're on the same page as Mason (Rudolph). He knows what we're going to do and we know when he's going to throw it. The results are coming with that and feeling things out."

On consistent success in passing:
"It's pretty much everybody doing their job and a lot of coverage recognition. On third downs, there are more blitzes and it depends on the down and distance. It starts with the offensive line up front, and from there it's about 50-50 between us and Mason knowing where each other are going to be."

Center Brad Lundblade

On West Virginia’s defensive line:
"As a center, it's definitely something we have to account for. They try to give their opponents a lot of different looks and try to confuse you, but that’s just something we will have to do extra film and studying for. We will be prepared for it, but it's going to provide some challenges for us."

On defensive linemen giving the center different looks:
"It's fine. We get all kinds of looks all of the time, and as a center that's part of your job. Sometimes, you are going to get some looks that you're not used to, whether a guy is straight over you or you're uncovered, so we just have to be ready for anything."

On successful third-down conversions:
"It's awesome for us just knowing that if we do our job, then they're going to make plays for us. In our offense, it's especially crucial to get first downs, keep the chains moving and find a rhythm. Whenever the wide receivers and quarterback are making plays like that, it definitely boosts our confidence."

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