Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy and selected members of the football team visited with the media Monday in Boone Pickens Stadium to preview the Cowboys' matchup with Kansas State. Their comments:
Head Coach Mike Gundy
"After watching the tape, there was a number of things that we were encouraged with. We improved the special teams and continued to develop some of the younger players, so next week should be a good challenge. Kansas State has a great kick return game. Their punt return and kick return could be the best in the country, so that'll be a big challenge for us. Offensively, we were able to identify where we had one guy break down here or break down there, whether it was protection, a block, a throw or a route. For the most part, we had improvement. Defensively, we got tired late. We played a little over and under coverage on No. 11 and put a safety on him at times, which made us a little deficient against the run game. We hope that we've corrected those areas. From a depth standpoint, we're not really able to correct anything, but we can move forward. We're going to play a good team this week. I don't think anybody needs me to talk about Kansas State, though. I think everybody knows who their coach is and who they are."
On Jordan Sterns' 20-tackle performance against WVU:
"He played well. Too many tackles for a safety, though. We're aware of that. He's playing a lot of plays during the games. He's playing over 70 plays in games when he should be playing about 50, but he's playing very well. He's physical, and he's a guy that we need to try and protect as much as possible when he's making a number of plays for us during the game."
On his relationship with Kansas State coach Bill Snyder:
"Well, I can say I know him somewhat or fairly well from conventions, Big 12 meetings and listening to him in the same room with a group of people. I don't really talk to other people in this profession very much, and I don't know that he hangs out a lot, but as I've said each year, I have a lot of respect for him. You can go back to when Barry Switzer said that he was the coach of the century at one time. It's a challenge for me, as a head coach, and for our staff against them. It's interesting, the game hasn't changed much for them. They have a plan on offense, they have a plan on special teams and they have a plan on defense. That's what you get."
On some of the team's leaders losing consecutive games for the first time in their respective careers:
"They're disappointed, and that's how they should react. As a coach, we instill and tell them the truth; what happened, why it happened, how to improve it and how to make it better for next week. Other than that, there's really not much to say. It's very simple. I've said this from day one, and I said it years ago when we were standing here talking about being 6-1 or 7-0, but each week is different. You can't get too high, and you can't get too low. You have to play a game next Saturday. That's just life and the world we live in, and football is a great teaching tool for life. These guys need to understand that. There will always be setbacks, and you really have to see how you handle those setbacks to see what kind of person you are. Pat Jones always used to say that everybody practiced hard when it was 72 and partly cloudy. I want to know who practices hard when it's 100 degrees in the sunshine. That's really the same kind of illustration of where we're at right now, but I'm not concerned with any of our players. I will be disappointed if we don't give effort, don't prepare as a coaching staff or work as a group. That will disappoint me. Things that are frustrating come from the standpoint of things that I want to happen for the players. I've been saying that for weeks, but that's how I feel."
On the team's upcoming schedule:
"Well, I mentioned this to you a couple of weeks ago, but we're only going to be good enough to worry about the next game. Essentially, if you go back a couple of weeks all the way through the schedule, you're either playing a top-20 team or a team that's developing and has really good players. Each week is going to be a real challenge for us."
Offensive Coordinator Mike Yurcich
On Kansas State's pass rush:
"(Muller) is a really good defender. They are very physical and strong, understand their techniques, establish contain and know how to limit the quarterback's vision. (Kansas State) does a nice job of disrupting you, not just with the blitz, but with their front four."
On Daxx Garman's progress:
"I think there is a lot of room for Daxx to improve and he knows that and expects to play better. This week is a really important week for him to get better, give great effort; and we know he will because he is a great leader. His attitude is excellent and he has a great mind frame. Obviously, this sport can get you discouraged real quick and he has a very positive mental outlook on things and it's really good to meet with him every day to talk football, because he is a very poised young man."
On the inexperience of the offensive line:
"We are going to go with what we have, obviously. We feel good with our personnel and we need to improve and work hard every week to get better."
On Tyreek Hill's progress:
"There were some signs last week, plus a couple runs, but he is going to continue to get better with each game. Practice is one thing, but you go full speed in the game and you're able to go with live ammunition. The more carries and game experience he gets, the better he is going to get."
Defensive Coordinator Glenn Spencer
On Emmanuel Ogbah:
"He is a dynamic kid. He was hurt a little bit, but nothing major for a couple games. He's playing at a high level, not very often do you have kids who can just beat one-on-one match-ups. He has the ability to do that and anytime you get a defensive linemen that can do that, it really helps opens things up for you."
On Seth Jacobs:
"Seth is just one of our favorites because this year he's an unbelievable, tough kid. He got banged up last game and he was off the field for a little bit, but then he came back in and was grimacing on the sideline. He's playing with a lot of pain. He didn't have his best game Saturday and a lot of that is because he is banged up, but I really am confident in him coming back and playing well."
On Kevin Peterson:
"Kevin continues to be steady. We put a lot on Kevin and the best thing you can say about him is that you just don't notice him a lot because he is just covering up and they don't go to him. That's a good sign. When they do he has been there for us. He's had a great year and has a great personality and sets a great example with good practicing habits and being productive in games."
On the threat Jake Waters poses to the defense:
"Huge threat – throwing the ball, running the ball effectively and being patient with their run game. They have a lot of different ways to exploit you numbers-wise because of what he can do. He knows where seams and alleys are and has the run-pass option about every play and the one time your eyes are wrong, he is going to get you. It's option football. It's just a different way to run it. Sometimes he has the ball in his hand as the runner, as opposed to the option when he is pitching it backwards. He's running it and has the option to pitch it forward and throw the ball. It's a big challenge for us as it has been to everybody that has played him.”
Cornerback Kevin Peterson
On Kansas State receivers:
“Every time we play a team from the Big 12, they have good receivers. Last week we did, and this week we'll play K-State and they have good receivers. The game plan going in will be good. We're going to see if we're going to be able to do it.”
On how to prepare for Kansas State:
“This is my third time playing them. They're going to do the same thing they do. They're going to give the tight end the ball, and the quarterback is really smart. They're really physical and they have a lot of speed so we'll try to do the best we can to slow them down.”
On the cornerback play against WVU:
“As a whole, the corners tackled well. We played with our eyes. We played physical. We didn't miss a whole lot of tackles in the second half. That's probably the thing we did best.”
Punter Kip Smith
On winning the Ray Guy National Player of the Week award:
“It's pretty cool. I think with some of my punts, I would like to get more hang time on them. It's a cool recognition this week. If I could do that every week for the rest of the season, I would be more satisfied.”
On what he contributes his consistency to:
“Definitely all the practices in the offseason. Coach Glass had me and Ben (Grogan) on a kicker-specific workout. So we still do that in the season right now. We're still gaining strength in our legs. We're still getting time to rest them. We've been doing really good since Coach Glass gave us that routine.”
On his punting strategy:
“I have a background in soccer so I got the leg strength from that. So at first, you don't really know what you're doing, but then once you practice it a bunch of times, you kind of figure it out. Once you figure it out while you're in college, you just do all your live reps in practice and then the game kind of comes with it.”
On expectations for Kansas State:
“For me, I definitely want them to fair catch every punt because they're really good at returning punts. I also hope it isn't too windy.”
Linebacker Ryan Simmons
On preparing for the Kansas State crowd:
"We practice for that every day. We have music blaring when it's team situations and we are always under pressure and the tempo is always around. We practice harder and we are aware of it."
On Saturday's throwback helmets:
"I really liked last week's helmets. Those historical type things, I always like throwback looks. I think the ones we wore last week are second to the holographic ones from the Texas Tech game."
On the importance of Kevin Peterson to the defense:
"He is very important. As you could see, he basically shut-down probably the top receiver. He is great on run support and he does his job. He is definitely a motivator to the younger guys. He is somebody to look after on this defense."
On the importance of first down situations:
"We just have to execute on all levels and just make sure we are confident in our reads and just play fast and play hard. We all have a game plan set and we know what we have to do."
Safety Jordan Sterns
On the importance of watching film:
"It is very important and you learn from your mistakes that you made and you get to correct them and you get better for the next game and hopefully you don't make the same mistakes."
On his personal excitement to play Kansas State:
"I'm pretty excited, I've heard it's a great atmosphere and I'm looking forward to it."
On Kansas State:
"I know that they are a real physical team, they take their time and they are coached well."
Receiver David Glidden
On how to keep improving as a team:
"Every week we're going in there with the same mindset. Coach Gundy always preaches you have to go in there and work on the fundamentals. Every Sunday we're going in there and watch the game film from the previous day. You have to learn everyone makes mistakes and everyone has things to correct and work on."
On how to improve personally:
"There's always adjustments in routes and particular things in routes. There was one time I got bumped out of my route a little bit, small things like that you have to watch the film and study up."
On what he knows about Kansas State:
"They're a very disciplined team and everybody knows about Coach Snyder and I think, if I had to guess, the one thing he preaches is discipline."
On his favorite part of an away game:
"To me, it's always kind of fun hearing the other crowds, for most places you go you sit right in front of the other team's student sections, so that's always kind of fun and interesting to me."