OSU Football: Cowboys Talk TCU
STILLWATER - With the season coming down to a pair of road games, Mike Gundy and the Cowboys are still in control of their Big 12 title fates. Here’s what they had to say about Saturday’s matchup against TCU.
Head Coach Mike Gundy
"That was a good win for our team. We had a good practice last night and talked about refocusing today on TCU. It should be a great game. I've watched quite a bit on them. They're very talented on defense and they run well. Part of the year they've been beaten up a little bit, but they're getting back to strength in my opinion. Like most games for us in conference, it ought to be an exciting game and we're going to need a lot of preparation. I'm looking forward to driving down there and playing Saturday morning."
On if he thinks the team is in a better position going into the last two regular season games than last year:
"We are healthier on defense. Last year, the teams we played at the end of the year were really, really good football teams. I didn't feel like we played as well defensively as we could have, but we were beat up a little bit. That made it difficult for us to practice. We're healthier, so overall I feel like we're better off as a team. We were able to get out of the last game without getting anybody injured. Their focus has to be to finish strong. Fatigue could be an issue in conference play, but there is so much parity in our league right now that it's just a matter of what teams stay focused, make the plays, take care of the football, and so on. I do feel better about where we are now than we were at this time last year with our health on the defensive side of the ball."
On if having J.W. Walsh last season helped Mason Rudolph's health and development:
"The fewer hits that all of the guys that play this position take, the better off whoever's team they play for is going to be, in my opinion. J.W. was able to take a lot of physical contact off of Mason last year because of all of the third-and-short and goal line plays that he was in. Now we've adjusted to our offense to where we're not a very good third-and-short team and we're a pretty average goal line team, but we've made a few changes and Mason has been included in that. You've seen him run the ball. He wants to run the ball more. I'm not really excited about him running the ball more, but when you get into a condensed area on the field numbers play a huge role in trying to score."
On defensive tackle Vincent Taylor:
"He's up there with being as good as any player we've had on the defensive side of the ball for us. He's come a long way and made great strides in the last six months. He's another guy that, a year from now, can really position himself to make some good money and have the opportunity to play this game for another six or seven years just seeing the strides he's made over the last six months."
On playing TCU after their bye week:
"There will be a few things that are different. You just have more time to study and prepare. Health-wise, fortunately for us, we're in decent shape. We had our bye weeks a couple of weeks ago when we needed a bye week. I always have concerns when we play a team that has had a bye week if we're not healthy. I think we're okay there, but there will be some changes just based on the history of coaches who have time to watch tape and put things in that they can get in during the week. You have a Tuesday practice and a Wednesday practice and that's pretty much it. The extra practices really help."
Offensive Coordinator Mike Yurcich
On James Washington making the semifinalist list for the Biletnikoff Award:
"I think it's a great honor and well-deserved. I think his focus is on this week and practice and getting another W. I'm sure all individual awards will be reflected on postseason. It's nice to be in that group and it's a heck of an honor for him, but it's team first and we're going to think about the mission on Saturday."
On James Washington's potential to have good game against TCU's defense:
"They're traditionally a corners coverage team, mainly. They'll mix up some coverages and I'm sure he'll get a safety over the top of him - just about everybody has tried to roll to him, so I'm sure they'll have a plan to take him away on certain downs and distances and formations and that sort of thing where they think he's going to get the ball from what we've shown in the past. We have to anticipate that, be able to run the football and stay balanced. But, who knows? We have a plan to get our best players the ball and if they take it away we have to go elsewhere with it. We're not sure who's going to lead us in receiving, we're not sure who it going to lead us in rushing, and those are good things to have in your offense."
On contacting former Cowboy J.W. Walsh:
"We texted a couple of times. I think he hit me up during the World Series, he knows I'm an Indians fan, so he hit me up then, but that's been about it."
On red zone efficiency last year compared to this year:
"Anytime you're able to run option football – even last week we ran Mason on the 9-yard-line for a zone-read keeper – you're able to score more touchdowns down there. That's just the way it goes. If you look at the highest touchdown efficiency in the red zone, you'll see the option teams. The Georgia Techs, Navy, those teams are going to have more touchdowns simply because of the numbers."
Defensive Coordinator Glenn Spencer
On stopping Kenny Hill:
"It's different. Kenny is a good runner. I think he likes to run the ball and I think they see that. Everyone knows, the difficulties as far as numbers that you have to have to stop a good quarterback, so we'll have to have that in the system. The challenge now is that he's got his supporting cast healthy, now. We saw a little taste of it against Baylor, kind of what they can do when they have those good linemen back."
On taking away an opponent's confidence:
"I don't know if you can shut that down. You just try to play well, try to get stops, try to kill some of their momentum when you can to get them out of rhythm. Coach Meacham does a great job of mixing up the run and pass. He does a great job of formationing you, and forcing you to lineup fast; a lot of those fundamentals of those types of systems. We've really got to be on the ball. We have to get lined up, get the call in and obviously get the stop."
On watching film:
"You're always looking for an edge, but you can't get out of it too much because you've got a lot of reps invested into other things. When they're at full strength and everybody is healthy, no one has shut them down. Sometimes they've had some guys injured and they weren't as explosive, but I think we're going to see a healthy, rested team when we go down there."
Linebacker Justin Phillips
On slowing TCU down and their quarterback:
"We'll look back on things, and we might use a few of the things we've done before. Like last year when they had a mobile quarterback, so we'll just take things from that and other teams' schemes and put it in place for the game Saturday."
On what makes the TCU offense so hard to contain:
"They have a lot of great athletes out there. They have a lot of people who are good in space, and they have a good quarterback as well, so we'll just try our best to contain them and hopefully come out with a win."
On playing well in close games:
"I mean I wish I knew the answer to that, but we really can't think about that. We take it a play at a time. We're well-conditioned, so we're able to play for four quarters."
On if they prepare for close games:
"We always prepare ourselves to fight hard and to come out with the victory. However the game flows is how it is, and we just have to make sure we fight hard all the way to the finish."
On coaches and players preparing each other for games:
"We're all on the same page every day. We come in with the mindset that it's going to be a dog fight. Whatever the outcome is, that's what we plan on."
Center Brad Lundblade
On Saturday's performance:
"I thought we had a good performance. There were definitely times that we could have been better but the defense was able to put us in a position where we could pretty much maintain the lead throughout the game. We knew Texas Tech was going to put up points and we knew as an offense we would have to match that. I feel like we were able to do that so it was a good performance."
On being able to run the ball:
"It's good for our whole offense. I feel like throughout the game we were able to run the ball effectively and that helps our passing game as well."
On what they're working on this week to prepare for TCU:
"They're always a good team. Coach Patterson down there, he's a defensive coach, they always have a good game plan ready and we have to be ready and have a great week of preparation. It will be a good challenge for us. The main thing when you play on the road is you have to take care of the football, eliminate penalties, turnovers, things like that. We really just have to go out and execute. Like I said, they're a disciplined defense, they always are so we have to go play our game, be disciplined and do what we do."
Defensive Tackle Vincent Taylor
On having a chip on his shoulder against Texas teams:
"Any team I have a chip on my shoulder, especially teams who hadn't offered me and teams that look past me. I think that goes along with other guys on our team. Most our guys on our team are from Texas so every time we get to play a Texas team, it's always good to get a win and go up there and make big plays."
On OSU being 28-8 against in its last 36 games against teams from the state of Texas:
"That's crazy. It just goes to show you how these two states compare to one another and how they compete."
Quarterback Mason Rudolph
On the red zone offense and him running for touchdowns:
"Really, the only times I call for the ball is when I don't think they are defending me very much. Whether they are trying to pack the box or blanket our receivers. In the scores on red zone, I think I can be effective, which is why I call for it. I'm trying to protect myself at the same time but it's been fun."
On having a better running game this year:
"It's been huge for us this year. We are just that much more balanced and make defenses prepare for both."
On being able to score from anywhere:
"Once you cross the 50, or no matter where we are on the field, we are always confident we can move the ball down the field, and move it quickly and do it quickly and score fast; or put on a methodical 14-play drive. Whichever we need in the situation, I'm always confident in our guys."
Safety Jordan Sterns
On senior day:
"It was fun. I had a good time. I'm glad I got to win in my last time at Boone Pickens Stadium. So many memories in that stadium and all of the fans in the crowd were great, so it was fun."
On traveling to face TCU this week:
"They've got a couple of guys back. They had that week off, but we do a good job of staying fresh. We've just got to come out and practice hard and keep doing the same things we've been doing. We've got to get properly prepared and then just go out there and do what we do."
On TCU quarterback Kenny Hill's similarities to Texas Tech quarterback Patrick Mahomes:
"They're both good and they can both run the ball well. They can scramble out of the pocket and find guys downfield within the holes of the coverage. They're both great players, but we're going to have our hands full with Hill this week as well."
On TCU running back Kyle Hicks:
"Hicks, from watching him on film, is just real solid. He can lower his shoulder and he can make you miss. We've got to make sure we swarm to the ball this week. I don't think we've played a running back like him since Baylor, and that was three different guys, so just swarming to the ball and stopping the run are important this week."
Punter Zach Sinor
On directional punting:
"I feel a lot better about my directional punting. I worked a lot on that in the offseason. I go to camps in the summer and really focus on directional punting. I don't think I've hit a punt down the middle of the field that wasn't on purpose in three years now."
On rising to the top of the depth chart:
"I just did my own thing. I let things fall into place and just stayed focused on what it was that I could do and try to find out how I could best help the defense out. That's really it."
On his focus during games:
"I just know where we're at in the field at all times, so if we're inside the 45-yard line, I'll go the net and do some pooch punts and if we're outside of that I'll just work on regular punts."