Coming off Saturday's huge 49-29 win against TCU, Mike Gundy and No. 5 Oklahoma State met the media to preview the least intimidating opponent on the remainder of the schedule. However, the Cowboys take on Iowa State in Ames, Iowa, a place that will always be infamous among OSU supporters for the 2011 contest. Here's what the coaches and players had to say about this weeks' matchup.
Head Coach Mike Gundy
"We're back at it. We played probably the most complete game we've played this year in all three phases, offensively, defensively and on special teams. It resulted in a good win for our team. We got them together last night and started on Iowa State. There's obviously a lot of excitement in our program and a lot of excitement around the community with the Oklahoma State people. We challenge our players to stay focused each day and understand the importance of preparation for getting ready for the next game. We've started on Iowa State, who is playing as well over the last few weeks as they've played in a long time. We'll definitely have our hands full. We need a great week of preparation, and we'll need to play with a lot of excitement on Saturday."
On the difficulty of playing in Ames:
"I'm not sure that it's tougher than anywhere else in the league on the road. It's just a road game. I think once you get into the middle and latter part of the season in conference play, there are a lot of variables involved. You have the injuries, fatigue and challenge of motivating your players each week. There's just a lot going on. When you're in the friendly confines of your stadium, it makes it a little easier to play, but we don't have that luxury each week. As I mentioned in my opening statement, the focus of our players will be really important."
On the success of the offense despite a lack of a running game:
"I thought the staff did a great job, and I think they've done a tremendous job this whole season with using our talent the proper way and dealing with the schedule. Our preseason schedule has been a huge benefit for us up to this point, and it has helped us progress as a team and get a little better each week. We are going to try and continue to improve our work in the running game. I still believe that we need to rush the football better than we are now. I didn't feel like we were as good against TCU as we had been in the couple of weeks before. We've discussed that, and we'll have those discussions again over the next 18 hours. We'll continue to work to improve. Those guys have been resourceful in finding ways to try to maneuver this team to get into the end zone and score points. Obviously, Glenn [Spencer] did a great job against TCU in forcing the turnovers and pressuring the quarterback. In my opinion, it put him in an uncomfortable situation."
On the 2011 game at Iowa State:
"That's the first time I've heard that, to be honest with you, but it's only Monday. I've never really bought into scenarios, revenge, what a team may have done to us last year and what we want to do to them this year. We are a firm believer in day-to-day preparation, and that's the easiest way for us to handle those topics."
On if the team's undefeated record plays a factor in motivation:
"No question. All of those things factor in. As a coach, you try to weigh how much of that they're actually listening to. At some point, they could believe that they're better than they really are, but you also want them to enjoy their success and continue to build confidence."
Defensive Coordinator Glenn Spencer
On defending 110 plays vs. TCU:
"We didn't play great every snap. We played great in a lot of possessions. People forget about the fatigue factor that's involved also. Naturally in their mind and heart they think they're playing like they were in play one in play 110 and that's what we try and coach them, but you're really not. There's physical limitations and I'm sure that played a role. The whole talk was steal possessions, any way we can. Let it be by a three-and-out, we had a couple of those; make them punt, a few of those; turnovers, a few of those. And our offense did a tremendous job by getting up on them fast and it kind of changed the way that you try and win a game in the second half, when you're up three scores. It was a great team effort, it really was."
On how he feels about limiting yards after catch and tackling:
"Good and bad, but not disappointed because of the effort. Tremendous player [Trevone Boykin] made us miss a couple times, real good running back [Aaron Greene] made us miss, real quick, so I'm not pleased with that. Besides the one that Jordan [Sterns] missed on the slant that went 70, I think on the rest of them there weren't a lot of yards after the missed tackle and that's something that happens because there's other guys busting their tail, and when there's a miss, somebody else is there to make it. Missed tackles kill you if you miss and there's a lot of yards after that miss and on that one it killed us. I was pleased in the effort if we did miss one."
On preparing for Iowa State:
"It's just a change of speed now. Now you got a big physical line, you're going to get some inside zone, you're going to get a tough quarterback. He isn't looking to run out of bounds, he's not looking to avoid contact. He's looking to lower his head and run over you, he's got a strong arm. Big receivers that you worry about them creating separation just by being physical with some corners. It's just different challenges. Playing on the road up there, we’ve got to go and really play a tremendous game because they're going to play better at home. So you've got to play a tremendous game and you're not going to get a lot of gifts and they're going to have a lot of emotion and a lot of intensity, so you've really got to step up to that challenge."
Offensive Coordinator Mike Yurcich
On limiting false start penalties at Iowa State:
"Well, you know sometimes you flirt with that threshold of putting too much installation in, in one particular week. You ought to have new wrinkles in. Our guys are eager to learn. I think that's really, really important that our players have that hunger and they are like sponges on Tuesday's meeting. They want to know what new wrinkles can we put in this week, but at the same time, it can't be much because it's taking up brain space, it could be just one little hiccup and you're first and 15. You’ve got to be careful with that. It's a little bit of a dance and there's a balance there that you need to have."
On Mason Rudolph's deep ball abilities:
"He's got great touch, there's no question about it. He has the arm strength to get the ball down the field. I think the variations that you see in trajectory are based on safety location and also the leverage that the receiver has. If it's a one-on-one situation with no safety help, you may see him put a little bit more air under the ball because the only thing that the defender can do is try and undercut it and the flatter ball will have less of a chance to be complete. A lot of it depends on safety location and where the receiver is in comparison to the corner."
On James Washington's ability to track the football:
"You rep things and Coach [Kasey] Dunn does a great job with the deep balls, in fact they were working on the deep balls last week off the JUGS machine and that's absolutely going to help out repetitions and habit forming fundamentals. He's got a great ability to step on the gas when the ball is in the air to really accelerate and turn on the after-burners, so to speak, when the ball is up in the air go get it. He's just a very, very good athlete with a lot of explosion."
On how proud he is of the OSU coaching staff:
"It's great being in that room with those guys. They're team-oriented guys. They all know a lot of football and it's a fun experience being with those guys. They're all team oriented, which is really important to have a bunch of guys that know that much football and for them to be professional and be team, selfless guys. It's very important to have that part of your staff. Those guys are doing a great job and getting us in great schemes throughout the week, providing great input on game day. Obviously they are able to communicate that to the players and to teach them. That's very important to have those guys. I can't speak enough about how the players are learning and how our coaches are coaching."
On Wally Burnham and the Iowa State defense:
"Those guys have done a great job this year. They've adjusted their schemes and transitioned a little bit and they've given some people some struggles now. They're going to be a team we need to really buckle and down and develop a good game plan for because they're very well-coached. They're a hard working bunch. They get to the football very well and they're going to be ready to play that's for sure."
Center Brad Lundblade
On grades from the TCU game:
"On Sunday, we come watch film from the previous game and receive our grades on pass blocking and things like that. We were pretty good across the board. I would say the average grade is an 85, but we were all in the 90s range for this game so that's pretty good for us. We did a really good job protecting Mason [Rudolph] and it showed in our grade reports."
On gaining momentum early:
"I think it's very important to get off to a good start, especially on the road when you're playing in someone else's stadium. With this team, we've shown that when we don't get a fast start, we have the ability to fight back and through adversity."
Defensive Tackle Trace Clark
On the defense’s growth in confidence:
"Our confidence grew as a defense throughout the game. We kept flying to the football and playing together. We were able to take [Trevone] Boykin out of what he's used to doing. He didn't get the deep ball he is used to throwing. We dictated some of the shorter passes so we could swarm to the football."
On his opportunity to play more:
"First, I just want to give all of the glory to God. He blessed me with an opportunity and the ability which has allowed me to go out and perform on the football field. I appreciate everything Jimmy Bean has done for the defense and myself. My goal is to honor him when I'm filling in his spot."
On Bean's role in TCU game:
"He was definitely a huge motivator for us. We wanted to play for him, especially on the defensive line. He was also a coach for us. He would let me know where my eyes needed to be on the next play or how I could take my steps. It was a big help for all of us."
Quarterback J.W. Walsh
On Rudolph's performance:
"I was so proud of him. He played very well against a very good football team. For him to come out and play the way he did is huge for us. He was big spark for our offense and I'm really proud of him."
On mentoring Rudolph:
"As the season goes on, there's not as much mentoring going on as there was in the beginning. He has it figured out and is a great leader for our football team. If he needs help or has questions, I'm always there for him."
On confidence and focus:
"The [TCU] win was tremendous for our football team. To be able to have all facets of the game working for us is big. Moving forward, we are going to be a confident football team. We've been confident all year and are excited for the opportunity to play Iowa State. Focus is huge this week. We don't want to have a hangover from a big win going into a game on the road. If we don't go in there prepared, Iowa State is good enough to slip us up."
Defensive Tackle Vincent Taylor
On OSU’s history at Iowa State:
"This past Sunday, Coach Spencer asked how many guys were on the 2011 team. Only three guys raised their hands. That's in the past now. We don't want the same thing to happen to us, so we have to prepare and stay focused."
On playing against more than 100 offensive possessions:
"Every time we went on the field, we just wanted to keep the crowd going and get stops. We love it. We play defense, so that's what our job is and we go make plays. Any time we're on the field with the crowd behind us, we love it. It exhausts us, but like Coach Gundy says, we have a lot of depth, so go out there, play our hearts out, and when you're tired the next guy will come."
Linebacker Chad Whitener
On the TCU win:
“We felt really confident. We knew how we prepared all week, and we trusted Coach Spencer and the whole defensive staff’s game plan. We came out very confident, and it showed.”
On keeping the momentum going into Iowa State:
“We have to take this team seriously. That’s the biggest thing. People have been trying to downplay Iowa State, but they’re a really good team at home. They’re in the Big 12 for a reason. You have to play the game how it’s supposed to be played and play it hard.”
On how the defense stays energized when the offense scores quickly:
“Get off our feet as soon as we can, and stay off our feet as long as we can. We make sure we hydrate as soon as we get on the sidelines.”
Defensive End Emmanuel Ogbah
On his performance against TCU:
“I train myself pretty hard for games like this. I set out to focus on my effort. That’s the only way I compete. I have to give a great effort for my team.”
On not having Jimmy Bean playing with him:
“It was hard because we’ve been playing together this whole time. It was hard, but Trace (Clark) really stepped up to the role and really helped us out.”
On what’s ahead for OSU football:
“A couple of years ago, we lost to Iowa State in Ames. We can’t take any team lightly, and we have to bring our A-game and keep the pressure on Iowa State.”
Safety Tre Flowers
On the defensive ends stepping in for Jimmy Bean:
“We have [Jordan Brailford and Jarrell Owens] that have motivation. They just want to play football and make plays. I don’t think we’re missing a beat. Jarrell been playing on defense more. Jordan has been on kickoff all year, and now Jarrell is on kickoff. Having two defensive linemen on kickoff is crazy.”
On the TCU game:
“It was exciting, and it was so much fun to be a part of. It was a great experience.”