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 West Virginia. Their comments:
Coach Mike Gundy
On last week's loss at TCU:
“We're back at it. A quick wrap up of TCU – it was a little bit of what we thought post-game. After watching the tape with all three phases and grading it a little more closely, TCU has a good football team. They are more athletic and a little more mature than us. They scored 21 points in five minutes. It snowballed being on the road. We ran the ball better. We actually blocked better offensively than we had. We just didn't throw the ball well. We really ran into a better football team who played well at home. The results certainly weren't what we were looking for, but back at it with practice last night and practice tomorrow. We're facing another team that's playing well right now. They have a quarterback who has matured and is playing with confidence. He's considerably better than what he was eight or 10 games ago in my opinion. They've got a great receiver who is going to play the game for a long time in my opinion. Defense is playing with an attitude and a lot of confidence. We'll have our hands full, but there's nothing that's changed other than trying to get better in all three areas. We need to find a way to move the ball and score some points and eliminate West Virginia from getting big plays."
On Dana Holgorsen's schedule as a coordinator at OSU compared to others' schedules:
"The coordinators that have come in here have been able to set their own hours and work how they want to in order to be productive. Dana (Holgorsen) was different than a lot of coaches. I don't know if it was at Oklahoma State or anywhere else. He had a different schedule, but he was productive in what we wanted him to do. He wasn't here very long before he went on to be a head coach."
On how to get Garman in a groove:
"I know everybody is tired of hearing this, but we have to run the ball. We blocked better. We played a better team athletically than what we've faced. We actually blocked better in the run game. We need to protect Garman better. There were a couple throws he made that I wasn't fired up about. I'm not trying to defend anybody, but if we don't run the ball better than we did Saturday and protect, then it is hard for him to operate. His attitude is good. With the learning and information that he's getting in the game and the adjustments he's making, he's doing fine."
On if the run game was improved:
"It really was for the level of competition. I've got all the respect in the world for Paul (Rhoads) and for what Clint (Bowen) is trying to do at Kansas, but that was a different defense than what we've faced. I wish we would have blocked as effectively as we did running the ball earlier than we did against TCU. We made some strides there. We made some strides in our coverage units on special teams. Defensively, we gave up 21 points in five minutes, which were big plays. That's been uncharacteristic for us. Then we were playing on the road against a good team and a quarterback that's matured, experienced and believes in himself, in my opinion, and it snowballed on us really fast."
On if they are getting better at what they are already doing or trying new things based on who they are playing:
"It's kind of like algebra. We're trying to figure out the first form to get to the next one. That's where we're at. We're a little better at it. As I mentioned we're a little better at running the football. We need to do a better job throwing it. Now we're going to have to put it together. If we can improve in certain areas and improve in the basics, then it'll allow the quarterback to play better. It opens up new plays for our team."
Offensive Coordinator Mike Yurcich
On preparing for opposing pass rushes:
“We've got to expect a blitz. We've got to figure out how we can protect the quarterback and what their most common blitzes are.”
On getting Tyreek Hill more involved with the offense:
“Any way you can get him involved is a must. We've got to focus on ways to do that. How we use him will be based on who we play.”
On the youth of the offense:
“We have some really mature guys. Even though they're young, I think that they understand the team concept. There are some ups and downs in this game, so as long as we prepare, work hard and have a good week of practice, then good things will come.”
Defensive Coordinator Glenn Spencer
On defensive consistency:
“The league has talented guys in the skill positions. There is a wave of outstanding quarterbacks and receivers. We've got to isolate West Virginia and their balanced running attack.”
On adjusting to every Big 12 team:
“It's a challenge. It's always difficult on our side. There are times where everything isn't perfect and you just get a foul ball, but then there are times where you do everything right, but they make a play.”
On preparing for West Virginia:
“They're running the ball well. Coach Holgorsen has evolved. It's different than when he was here. I think he sees the advantages using two backs and his personnel.”
Linebacker Ryan Simmons
On the attitude of the team after the last game:
"We know we can't control that game anymore. We have a big game this week. It means a lot being homecoming. We have to hold our own."
On the remaining conference schedule:
"We can will all of them. That's what we've got to think. We can't think, ‘We may have a chance,' because that's already putting doubt in our mind. We have to be confident in one another and what we can do with one another. We just have to approach every game like it's the Big 12 Championship game."
On facing Clint Trickett:
"He's a great quarterback who controls the game, knows a lot about the offense with his reads and certain things. He just knows the game and what to do in certain situations, and executes very well."
Defensive Tackle James Castleman
On his interception against TCU:
"I'm just blessed that I caught it and I'm really happy about it."
On helping the team get over the loss:
"Myself and Ryan Simmons, feel like we are going to do a great job this week keeping everybody together. Even with the young guys on the team, I don't think we are going to have a problem with that. All the young guys I talked to so far are correcting themselves. I was really surprised and happy to see that, especially out of the young guys. It's not going to be that hard for us to prepare for the game and get back in the groove."
On encouraging the offense:
"We are going to let the offense do what they do best, and as a defense we've got to create turnovers and give the offense the best opportunities we can."
Linebacker Seth Jacobs
On facing West Virginia's offense:
"Just got to perform well and stick to our responsibilities – staying accountable with one another and playing with great effort."
On enjoying homecoming:
"I just focus on what we've got to do for the game. When I'm done playing football here is when I could enjoy the festivities."
On facing another good passing offense:
"We just have to execute the game plan. There were times when we made mistakes, but we've just got to move forward. It's a great opportunity for us again to go out and perform well."
Safety Tre Flowers
On defensive preparation:
"We come ready to play every day and we're trying to get better just like everybody else."
"It's going to be a lot of people, a lot of exciting things to do and we've got to get a win."
Safety Jordan Sterns
On if homecoming can be a distraction:
"I think it's another game and another chance to play football, so I don't see it as a distraction at all."
On added motivation for homecoming:
"Of course, homecoming is a game you want to win. Everybody is here, thousands of people are here. You want to win that game like you want to win every other game."
On bouncing back after a loss:
"It's very important. Things like that are going to happen. That's life, period; you're going to have ups and downs. You have to bounce back. You can't dwell on the past, so I think we're going to come out with a chip on our shoulder and you'll see us fight back."