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Gundy And Team Talk Homecoming, West Virginia

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STILLWATER -

It's an emotional week for Cowboy fans, coaches and players. Besides the Walkaround, Homecoming and Hoops and the annual parade, there's a top-10 team in West Virginia coming to Stillwater with a perfect record on the line.

Here's what Mike Gundy and his team had to say about the weekend and the Mountaineers.

Head Coach Mike Gundy

On how emotional the game could be because of the events surrounding last year's Homecoming game:
"Honestly, I hadn't thought about that side of it. I had heard some talk about trying to bring some of the people back that were involved in it. I would say that it'll be a very emotional time for some of the fans and people that it affected. For us, what I've been told is that everything will go on as normal. There's a lot of history and tradition here with our Homecoming, and we certainly want to keep that part of the day rolling."
 
On how he is going to keep his players focused with all the Homecoming activities happening:
"I think it's important to them, but in the end they go to school and play ball. They have their part of their social life that they're involved in, but I'd say they should stay focused, especially when you bring a team in that's undefeated and ranked as high as West Virginia is now. They should be able to stay focused."
 
On what the biggest concern is for West Virginia's defense:
"I think that up to now, they're playing as good as anyone in the conference and maybe comparable to top 10 teams in the country. They're multiple with the style of play they use. Each week they have a scheme and plan like most of us do, and whatever they feel personnel matches up best with the teams they're playing. They tackle well, in my opinion, and they play aggressive."
 
On how concerned he is about protecting Mason Rudolph:
"We're concerned about protecting him every week. We're certainly trying to avoid him taking hits. We had a couple of missed assignments, and we had a technique issue that were the reasons for three sacks Saturday. But we always want to do the best we can to protect him."
 
On if Gundy having the opportunity to win his 100th game is motivation to the team:
"I don't think so. These guys, they just live in a different world. You could ask them, and I bet more than half of them wouldn't know. I'm more concerned with them focusing on what they can do to have an impact on the game than that side of it. I think that's a nice mark for Oklahoma State football and for all of us in general, but they need to get tuned in to West Virginia."

Defensive Coordinator Glenn Spencer
 
On the emotion big plays create:
"It's an emotional game, yes. Who's to say sometimes your execution is really good, and you make plays. Sometimes a tipped ball might go in your hands, but it's hard to say. We've got some really good coaches, I think, and sometimes things don't work out on our side of the ball. Then everyone is quick to judge those guys. You look at recent history, and they've had great success too so we're in a tough time with all the great skill players in this league. There are some tremendous spread teams that isolate those one-on-ones."
 
On so many teams having good quarterbacks:
"These teams do (have good quarterbacks), especially if you get a kid that can run a little bit and escape. You see how the ability to escape is important. I was watching that game the other night, and even with Mason, guys may have the numbers right and great coverage, but then you have a D-lineman and a quarterback. If he can escape, a whole different play has occurred, and you've defended one play pretty well. It's the dynamic of an escapable quarterback when you're under pressure that has the right call and the right coverage, and that creates another header."
 
On how emotional the game could be because of the events surrounding last year's Homecoming game:
"I thought about that this morning. We'll mention it to our players. This is a game, as much as people like to make it more than that. It'll be like last year. Playing that game after that happened, it was surreal because of the circumstances. It wasn't the same, but you have to put it into context and realize that this is a game."

Offensive Coordinator Mike Yurcich
 
On West Virginia's defense:
"Their scoring defense is really good. They keep you out of the end zone and they've got a good score zone defense. They do a nice job defending both the run and the pass, especially the pass. They're a unique defense in which they can drop eight defenders and then also play eight-man front football. So, they're very unique in their style, they create some challenges for you offensively and it's a challenge that we're very eager to meet this week."
 
On Chris Carson's return:
"It was great to see Chris back. It's a spark for our offense and it helps 27 at the same time. It's a good one-two punch now. It eases the stress that gets put on the back of Justice. We increase your depth and increase your health with a guy like Chris, who is back running with an attitude. He had something to prove and is back at it. We didn't see any restraint from him, or any hesitation. He was pretty gung-ho and ran with great effort and great energy. We're very excited to see him finish the season out."
 
On the OSU run game:
"It was good. We've got to be able to run the football, especially when the defense dictates that we do with box count numbers and what they're giving us. At the same time, I think our backs did a tremendous job of making some guys miss when we didn't have those numbers in the box and our offensive line did a great job of creating movement at the point of attack."
 
On how to work around the double coverage of James Washington:
"I think he's an exceptional player, so you have to plan for that. Every game you have to go into it with the mindset that if we get one-on-one, we get the ball to him, but if they double him, what's our plan? You have to have answers. Cover-two answers or whatever, you have to have answers in your menu and have your guys ready for it. At the same time, you have to be able to adapt and adjust accordingly."

Linebacker Jordan Burton
 
On what he sees from West Virginia:
"They like to run the ball. They have a really good leader in Skyler (Howard). I know him personally. He can pass when he needs to make the right throws. They have good running backs that can make cuts in the holes and put their heads down. It will be a good challenge."
 
On the defense's unselfishness and how it will play into defending West Virginia's offense:
"We've got unselfish football players all over the field, so I think that will play into our advantage. You've got guys on the defensive line, and then sometimes the linebackers make plays. That's going to be called on a lot this week."
 
On West Virginia quarterback Skyler Howard:
"Skyler is a really hard worker, so anytime he has adversity he comes back a lot stronger. I know he's been putting in work in the offseason. He's found his niche, and he's found what throws he needs to make and when he needs to make them. He's found his place in that offense, so that's why he's thriving like he is."

Receiver Jalen McCleskey
 
On getting Chris Carson back:
"It was good. During the week, you couldn't even tell that he hurt his hand. He was practicing hard so I knew he would have a big game."
 
On the West Virginia defense:
"We just have to get more in-depth in the film, see how they play and what they do. We will take what they give us and focus on our game plan."
 
On players that may become coaches:
"Austin Hays is definitely a guy Coach is always talking to about coaching. I could see him being one."

Quarterback Mason Rudolph
 
On Gundy being a passionate coach:
"Yeah, he still gets fired up. Whether it's his locker room dance or his speeches in the locker room or the jokes he will crack in the hallways, he's a fun guy to be around."
 
On why West Virginia's defense stands out:
"I think it's different. There are a lot of base cover four teams in the Big 12. Any time you are different or present a different look to a quarterback, it's something you haven't seen a lot."
 
On West Virginia being a dark horse:
"I think people are talking about them. They are obviously undefeated and playing well as a unit. I think everyone knows about them and they are a good team, but we are a good team, too. I feel it will be a great matchup."

Running Back Chris Carson 
 
On the motivation going into the game against West Virginia: 
"You have to treat every opponent the same. We just want to come out there and get a win. Nothing we do is different. We know that they're a great team and they're going to fight until the end. It's going to be a good battle."
 
On the emotions of last year's Homecoming game: 
"It was a shock because we were having a pregame meal when we found out what happened. So we were kind of shocked. We just had to go out there and play for them and play for Oklahoma State."
 
On the feeling of being back last week against Kansas:
"It felt good to be back out there playing the game I love and be out there helping the team the best I can."

Defensive Tackle Vincent Taylor
 
On last season's Homecoming: 
"It's something you will never forget. One of the first things I did was text my dad then started praying for the families that were affected by it. So I'm hoping and praying that's something we don't have to experience during this Homecoming."
 
On the approach to the game with West Virginia: 
"They love to run the ball. That's one of the things they want to do. We're going to have to be ready to put on our big boy pants this week and be ready to stop the run. Everybody has got to be ready to play this weekend."

Safety Jordan Sterns
 
On Saturday's interception lateral play and the difference between the reaction of his teammates and coaches:
"They had two different reactions, of course. The players loved it and thought it was cool, and I did too. The coaches were a little more worried about what could have happened, which I understand. It was fun to watch. I got up after I pitched it and saw that Jarrell (Owens) had the ball. I was like 'Ah, I started something.' I thought they were going to keep pitching the ball back, so I'm jogging down the field and waiting for something crazy to happen. It was fun."
 
On West Virginia's offense:
"We just have to do a good job this week of working on (forcing) turnovers. Last week, us corners and safeties got together and had a competition with the other position groups on who could get more turnovers. The group that had the least had to do up-downs, so we started doing that and that helped us a lot this week. Going into it, we emphasized turnovers, and that's what we have to do this week."
 
On West Virginia quarterback Skyler Howard:
"One thing you can tell from watching is that he loves football and he seems like he works hard. He looks like a great leader. You can definitely see he's throwing the deep ball well. He does a lot of things well. He runs well. He's not afraid to get hit. He tries to make plays, and that's one thing you want to see out of your quarterback. It's going to be a challenge going against him. They've got a bunch of explosive guys that we're going to have to watch out for."

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