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Gundy Talks Sanders, Running Game And O-Line Improvement At Big 12 Media Days

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DALLAS -

Mike Gundy’s hair stole the spotlight at Day 1 of Big 12 Media Days in Dallas. Entering his 12th season as OSU head coach, Gundy sported a little “realignment” on the back of his head. Ok, it was a mini-mullet.

Besides the new do, here’s a look at what Gundy had to say at the unofficial start to football season.

  • On quarterback Mason Rudolph’s recovery from injury and surgery – “When we finished spring ball, he was very close to being pain free. He’s a tough football player and in the bowl game he wasn’t 100 percent. He’s had a really good summer; continued to develop mentally, he’s been very humble, understands the team concept and he looks really good. His strength levels are the highest they’ve ever been so we’re excited about watching him play this fall.”
  • On Rudolph being ‘the guy’ without J.W. Walsh this season – “We won’t handle Mason any differently and if we have somebody on our team that can help contribute on game day, whether it would be in a package similar to what J.W. executed for us last year, some short yardage and goal line packages, then if there is somebody out there we will certainly take advantage of their efforts. If not, then we develop a scheme for Mason that fits those categories. Our goal will be to establish a backup quarterback as quickly as possible and that’s not something that happens overnight.
  • On establishing a better ground attack this season – “When you look back at the last couple of years with our running game, we didn’t do a good job of covering guys up and giving our backs an opportunity to make cuts. We were making too many cuts at the line of scrimmage. We worked considerably hard in the spring and I feel like we’ve established continuity and we’ve got a group of running backs returning that are a little more fresh. They’re bigger and stronger than they were last year and I think when we put all that together we’re going to improve in the running game.”
  • On the addition of Barry J. Sanders – “I haven’t been around Junior much. He finished up at Stanford in the middle of June. I know that he’s mature, that he’s dependable, seems to be durable. He came from a winning program and from an offense that obviously runs the football so we’re excited about him being a part of our team.”
  • On the offensive line improvement from a year ago – “I think we have more continuity this year than we’ve had in the last two years and in offensive line play that helps. We have more size and strength. We’ve got seven guys that I mentioned after spring ball (Salako, Wilson, Lundblade, Robinson, Crabtree plus newcomer Larry Williams and redshirt freshman Marcus Keyes) that we feel like have to rotate through and give us the best opportunity for success.”
  • On confidence in the defense – “I feel good about our defense. We have depth. Joe Bob Clements has done a tremendous job of recruiting defensive linemen for us. The one area of concern is Emmanuel Ogbah because he was a great player for us last year and we have young players at the defensive end position who don’t have as much experience and are hopefully six or eight games away from getting to what a Jimmy Bean-level of player was. Jimmy Bean was a really, really good football player for us last year. Ogbah is an unfair comparison because essentially you’re talking about a guy who was picked in the first round.
  • On cornerback play – “We need to get some good corner play with the style of quarterbacks we face in this league. We’re in a turnover year again where the quarterback play is going to be so good in this league that if you turn the ball over a couple times you may end up scoring 31 points and lose the game. The other team may score 40 and that’s what can happen in this league. So defensively we try to do the best we can to limit big plays, continue to force turnovers and put the ball back in the offense’s hands.”
  • On defensive leaders and what it meant for Chad Whitener to be thrust into a starting role last season – “At the time, it was devastating for us to lose the experience and leadership that Ryan Simmons brought our football team. Chad Whitener is one of the guys that’s going to have to replace (Kevin) Peterson. (Jordan) Burton needs to be a leader for us. (Jordan) Sterns is out there, he’ll become a leader. Motekiai (Maile), Vincent Taylor, guys that are on the inside that need to prove that toughness to our team, we’ll look to those guys for leadership.”

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