Fresh off Saturday's 35-31 win at Iowa State, Mike Gundy and the fourth-ranked Cowboys look to keep their record unblemished against No. 10 Baylor. Here's what the coaches and players had to say at their weekly press conference.
Head Coach Mike Gundy
Opening statement:"I don't know if there's any reason to look back on last week's game. We can go ahead and expedite this as much as possible. Obviously, we're playing a really good football team, and we're looking forward to practicing this week. Things haven't really changed for us. We can't miss a day, we can't miss a meeting and we can't miss a practice. We've got a long ways to go. We ran the ball a little better last week, but we're still a very average to below average rushing football team. We made some plays throwing the ball, and the quarterbacks have played well. The defense didn't play very well in the first half, but we made some adjustments and played better. I don't know that we can take a half off this week and still play well enough to be happy at the end of the game."
On the psychology of being an undefeated team:"You know, it hasn't been mentioned. The players don't say much about that when they're around us at practice and at meetings. They have matured and stayed fairly focused on what we're doing. I don't really hear them saying much. Do they mention that when they're hanging out with their buddies? Probably, but I don't hear anything about being undefeated, and I haven't really heard much about the rankings."
On stressing the importance of having fun while staying competitive:"They need to embrace this moment. All of us do. That's one thing that I've been able to do this year. I really enjoy the team, and I think they're maximizing who they are as individuals. As a team concept, we're getting what we can get out of our football team. We put a lot of work in and buy into the system, and then you go home at night and go to sleep. It has been really fun for me. I've said this to our coaches multiple times over the last four or five weeks, but I've told them to enjoy the time that we're having and to embrace being with these guys. In today's society, life moves too fast. You look back and you think, 'I didn't even enjoy that ride.' So, I think we've stressed that to them, as well as the importance of the next game."
On Mason Rudolph only throwing one interception over the last four games:"I think he has matured and grown up. I think Mike (Yurcich) has done a great job with him. I think, like most of us, the more reps you get, the better you're going to be. He has improved in those areas, and I think he understands. I think last week was his best game of understanding coverage, dumping the ball down and getting it in the hands of players who can get positive yardage for our team."
On expanding the offense:"There have been some long meetings. There's a lot of video that goes into it, and I'd say that Coach Yurcich and those guys have done a great job. I don't know if smoke and mirrors is a good word, but they're doing a lot of different things to be able to accumulate yards in a way that is somewhat different than what we've had in the past. They've also allowed J.W. [Walsh] to be incorporated into the mix, which helps us get some of those rush yards that we need. We blocked better in this game with running plays than we have all year, but we still have a long ways to go. We'll continue to work at it this week."
Defensive Coordinator Glenn Spencer
On keeping players healthy:"I think we won't lighten the load more than we always do. Once you get past the halfway point in the season, you alter things a little bit, so it's just normal. We do change a little bit and we've always been able to function fine."
On Baylor's run/pass ratio:"It's based on situations. Of course, if things are working, they're going to stick with it. Sometimes they get way ahead in the game so they'll run the ball more. I think, like everybody, they want to be balanced. They like to throw when you think they're running, and run when you think they're throwing. Their offense can do either. It's the same philosophy you see out of most teams, except they've got a guy who has a great arm. They don't have the runner that some teams have, but they do have a lot of different gap schemes that a lot of teams don't do that can create other gaps to give them lanes to run through."
On substituting players against a fast-paced offense:"I think the officials do a good job of that. They've done an excellent job of allowing us to sub when they sub. I really believe that. Within the rules of the game, we'll be able to do what we want to do."
Offensive Coordinator Mike Yurcich
On the difficulty implementing new plays into the playbook:"It depends on what the play is. Certain guys have seen certain things, so it's very similar to them. If it's totally radical and different, it can take a few weeks. Sometimes you know you're not going to run it that week, but you're still trying to keep it warm. It's usually done on an open week."
On how the players respond to new plays:"You've got to keep it fresh, man. These guys are eager for new schemes at times, but at the same time, you can easily stress them out if they're trying to think. There is a lot to be said for putting out a game plan and making sure your guys are technically sound."
On Mason Rudolph's development this season:"I think he has 10 more whiskers on his chin, because he had three. That's a major difference, but I think his ability to see defenses now, recognize coverages and his understanding of our own offense and concepts have grown. I think he has an appreciation for ball security. Last week he did an excellent job of checking the ball down to his outlets because Iowa State was in "Drop 8" coverage. That's frustrating for a young quarterback to be patient and take the underneath stuff. That was great to see for us. That was a great development."
Receiver David Glidden
On Baylor's defense:"They're very good at what they do. They have great structure with their base defense and they're very disciplined. Their defensive line is strong and their secondary is very talented. Also, they're a veteran group."
On how well the team is playing right now:"It's just a testament to this group. The resiliency, never giving up and Coach Gundy telling us all the time, 'You got to play the next play.' You can't control what happened in the past and I think that's something this team has done a great job of and we plan on keeping it that way."
On the pressure of keeping up with Baylor's offense:"They're special on the offensive side of the ball. I don't know if we feel any added pressures. Sometimes it's in the back of your mind, but really when it comes down to it we're going to game plan for the things we need to do and the coaches are going to give us the plays they think gives us the best chance to succeed."
Quarterback Mason Rudolph
On the mentality entering the game vs. Baylor:“It’s another game. It’s another chance for us to play well and show people around the country what we’re really about. We’re playing a great team in Baylor. It’s a high-powered offense and a great defense so it will be an awesome challenge. It’s something we’ve been looking forward to.”
On what he has learned:“I think there’s been a lot of scenarios and a lot of experience, not only for me but for this team. There’s been a lot of adversity that we’ve had to fight through—a lot of games that were kind of close at the end. I feel like as a team we’ve come so far and have come together as a group and we just play well together.”
On OSU’s resiliency:“I think we have to credit it to our coaching staff. They put us in positions to respond. They’ve prepared us with a great game plan on both sides of the ball each week.”
Linebacker Seth Jacobs
On playing Baylor at home at night:“It’s a great opportunity. It’s a lot of fun for our fans to get to come out and see us. We just have to go this week and play hard.”
On Shock Linwood:“He’s a talented player. He has definitely done a lot of damage in his experience of playing in the Big 12. You have to respect him and what he’s able to do. They definitely have weapons outside that can toss the ball out. They make big plays. It’s just a matter of everybody doing their job and executing.”
On Baylor’s offensive line:“Their offensive line plays really well. They do what they do very well. You can tell when you watch their film. There’s really no other way to put it.”
On rankings:“I don’t really get involved with rankings. It’s just a matter of going out and playing because when it comes down to it, it’s 11-on-11 and it’s us out there playing on the field. Rankings don’t really matter at that point.”
Safety Jordan Sterns
On Baylor:“That (OU-Baylor) game could have gone either way. OU made a couple plays. We just have to come out ready because I’m sure Baylor is going to give everything they’ve got. They still have a chance to win the Big 12. We just have to be ready, stay alive and be ready for everything they throw at us.”
On OSU’s defensive mentality:“It’s a game. There’s no need to trash talk. Just go out there, play the game and have fun. Trash talk is not part of the game. Our coaches don’t let us do that in the first place so we just go out there and play.”
On the second half against Iowa State:“Anytime you can get a team out of their strength, it definitely helps you out. They become one-dimensional. They have to score so you can sit back and play the pass and just read the quarterback and then make plays.”
Defensive End Emmanuel Ogbah
On what they've learned each week to get where they are now:"We learned a lot. Last season was a disappointing season for us. This season, we had a lot of guys returning, so people knew about this season and about how we had to be the best we can be. I think that's our motivation, just go out there and be the best we can be."
On the winning streak:"It feels great. It's just a ton of guys taking it one game at a time. We have a great Baylor team that's coming to our house."
On speaking up in the second half:"I just realized that it was my time to speak up, since I don't talk much. So I just went and talked to the guys and told them, 'We're in the same position and we have to come together,' like we did with those other teams that had us in the same position."
Running Back Raymond Taylor
On the team continuing to comeback from large deficits in games:"It says that we have a lot of confidence and a lot of trust in each other. At no point do we give up, we stay strong and continue to play our game. No matter how much adversity comes up."
On the run game:"I felt really good about the way it went on Saturday. Chris (Carson) had a really good game running and I was able to compliment that. The run games helped lead us to victory."
On how productive the running backs are in the passing game:"We’ve got to protect him (Mason Rudolph) and we have to be ready to make big plays."
On his production the last few games:"It's just the offensive line doing their job, the coaches encouraging me and having trust in me and everybody putting in hard work."