Cowboy coaches and players met with the media on Thursday, a week in advance of OSU's Big 12 home opener against Texas Tech. Talk ranged from Daxx Garman's progression to Tyreek Hill's involvement in the offense and even the recent domestic violence trend in the NFL.
Head Coach Mike Gundy
“We had a good game last week, but now we're looking forward to the Tech game. We'll work out today, tomorrow and Sunday, but we'll let them off on Saturday. We've obviously finished up the last game, and we're into game prep for Tech. It'll be a different experience for a number of different plays, especially with it being a conference game. The defense will see a wide-open attack that's much faster than what we've seen in the last few games. Offensively, we're about the same as we have been for a while. As I mentioned, practices are going very well at this time. We've got a long ways to go, but the attitude is good, and we're certainly getting a little bit better each day.”
On the putting the Florida State game away and focusing on the Big 12 schedule:
“They were better last week. I mentioned that I didn't think they had done a very good job during the Missouri State week. I had told them that, and that's the way we ended up playing. That one's far enough gone now, so I think they've moved on, especially with us going into league play. We all had a concern with Texas-San Antonio, and that helped the team. I think our coaches understood that that was pretty good football team, so they got over the newness of Florida State fairly quickly, based on the game they played against Florida State.”
On Daxx Garman's progression at quarterback:
“Well, he throws the deep ball well. His accuracy seems to be improving. He's very inexperienced, but his demeanor in the last two games was good, not great. I think he gets a better feel for our offense every day. Just like all the rest of them, he should improve each week.”
On the game plan against Texas Tech:
“Our game plan is complete, but we don't really have the luxury of opening up the playbook. Our quarterback has only played two games in his career, and we have three young offensive linemen. The teams that we compete against know that. They watch tape, and they see the inability and deficiencies we have in certain positions. There's not really any reason to hide that, and we're going to try and accomplish a few new things each week.”
On Tyreek Hill becoming a bigger factor in the kick return game:
“Well, the UTSA kicker kicked the ball out of the end zone almost every time, and the punter hung the ball up so high that we couldn't get a return. The one time we did get a return, it hit 20 yards in front of him, so he never really got the ball. He got the ball the first game five or six times in the return game, but in the last game, their specialists were really good. There was a chance for him to touch the ball some from an offensive standpoint, and those are the areas where we need to make sure he's getting his touches. When you're relying on special teams, you can't always say that he's going to touch the ball. We need him to touch the ball. He'll touch the ball more in some games than others, but we'd like for him to be getting it at least 20 times a game.”
On Desmond Roland playing a leadership role with J.W. Walsh out:
“We need Desmond in there for two reasons. One, he's experienced, and two, he pushes the pile and moves downhill, which he did some for us last year, as well. We just aren't able to get him in space like we did last year because we don't block well enough right now. Hopefully we'll be able to block for him and get in front of some guys by mid-season. If we can do that, he'll be able to find more space and make some cuts.”
On how the younger guys on the defense have developed and will continue to grow:
“There were times during the Missouri State game where we had nine freshman on the field, so that's encouraging. Those players will be better at this next time year, mainly because they're a year older. That doesn't help us this week and in our upcoming game, but we are encouraged by the youth and the direction that we're moving on that side of the football. We made some adjustments about three years ago in our recruiting philosophy and the allocation and distribution of scholarships on that side of the ball. As I go back and take notes on what I do, I think it's working, and we'll find out more in the next few years. That's the direction we're going, though, and that's the direction we want this program to move toward.”
On if he uses the NFL arrests, abuse charges, etc, as teaching tools for his players:
"Every day. When you're the age that they're at, they don't think very well and make some mistakes. There are just some things that society is not going to forgive. We live in a country that loves to say, “we'll give you a second chance if you say you're sorry,” but I think right now there's some things that aren't very popular and it's frowned up, so we try to tell the players. We have educated our team. We've brought in legal counsel, brought them in again just on Monday to talk to them for about 10 minutes. I hate it for the game. I really don't like it in general, but we do the best we can to educate our players and hold our breath."
Offensive Coordinator Mike Yurcich
On if he's approached the off week any differently:
"No, we're trying to get better at the fundamentals and looking at how we can improve. That's always getting back to the basics, so it's about practicing with great effort and preparing for your next opponent. You've got to be careful you don't put too much in. You have to try to refine and make the package nice and compact."
On Texas Tech's defense:
"They run very well. The have some big guys on the interior. They have some inexperience, but it does seem like they are a physical bunch that like to run around and pursue the football."
On having Desmond Roland back:
"He brings some toughness to us. He brings a lot of muscle and dependability to our offense. He's a versatile guy. He's great at pass protection and running the football. He's hard to tackle. Desmond is an emerging leader on our offensive unit, which is great to have. It's good to see him back in the mix."
Defensive Coordinator Glenn Spencer
On how the off week has been beneficial:
"It's been very beneficial. We've approached it like a normal week. Monday was off, Tuesday was a physical practice, Wednesday was more scout team work. Today, we'll treat this like a normal Thursday and have bonus practices along the way. I think it's been great. It's been very beneficial, rep-wise."
On Texas Tech's offense:
"They've got probably the best vertical passing threat that we've seen all year, so anytime that's out there, there's a possibility of getting a big play. It only takes one. They could throw it out there five times, and if the sixth time's a big play then it's well worth it. We've got to defend the vertical game. They've always been a great screen team. And then once they get you spread out, they go run the ball. Every week, for us, it's a different attack. It's not like we just have a base amount of plays like an offense does. We've got to defend what we're seeing, so it's a different velocity coming in this week."
On if he's seeing more consistency out of his players:
"It's a week-by-week deal. It's still very much a growth process with this bunch. The last game, which is what I go on, cleared up quite a few mental errors, which I think resulted in some consistent play for that night. That's gone, that's put to rest. The challenge is now a new screen, new attack and how we're going to react to what we're going to see next Saturday. Every week is going to be that kind of process for these guys, and you've just got to hope that improvement shows a little bit more every week. If that happens then we'll be pleased."
Linebacker Seth Jacobs
On using a bye week to improve on mistakes:
“You get more time. Bye weeks are a great opportunity to get to know the opponent you're going against.”
On Texas Tech:
“We just have to execute the game plan that our coaches have given us. They are a very talented team that likes to throw the ball, and they do it well. We just have to execute the game plan and get in passing lanes.”
On conditioning for high powered offenses:
“Coach Gundy likes us to stay fresh. He does a good job of understanding his players and how we feel. We're fresh and we work hard. We'll get in, get our work done and then get out.”
Cornerback Ashton Lampkin
On Ryan Simmons' leadership:
“The younger guys have been looking up to Ryan since day one when they got here. Ryan has been a leader on this team. There are several guys on this team who people look up to.”
On being a leader:
“We kind of knew coming in. We talked to our coaches, and they let us know that sometimes we're always going to have to be in the game. We've just got to be prepared mentally and physically.”
On playing almost every defensive snap:
“It's more of a mental challenge than physical. I feel like we're always physically prepared. We never really feel tired.”
Fullback Jeremy Seaton
On blocking for Tyreek Hill:
“I definitely have to tell Tyreek to slow down sometimes. I think he's figured it out, though. The kid is incredible.”
On Tyreek Hill's patience:
“I think he's picked it up pretty well. You see him on the sideline whenever he has an outside zone play, and he's gone. It's more of a read, and you see him waiting for the correct hole.”
On Texas Tech:
“Any team you play can beat you. These guys are Division I athletes. They play in the Big 12; they're great athletes and can come alive any time. You definitely don't want to underestimate any of them.”
Defensive Tackle James Castleman
On the feeling of seeing family and friends traveling up for the game:
"It doesn't really feel different for me because this is my family now. Back at home, I have friends and my blood family, but this is my family now. So I couldn't be happier."
On starting conference play:
"I think we are a little bit more excited to get back into the Big 12 and get back into the grind of playing people that we play every year."
On the difference between last year's Tech team and this year's:
"This year, they try to create a run dominance in the offense. Then, out of nowhere, they come out with some passing. They have done a real good job of creating a run offense this year."
Receiver Austin Hays
On Daxx Garman's rhythm:
"Everybody knew that he was a great football player. He just hadn't played football in a while, so every day is important for him because he gets to take live reps. The more he takes live reps, the better he will become."
On helping newcomers with understanding the importance of conference play:
"Every game is so important. Every team is good in our conference, and you can't take a day off. Texas Tech could explode at any time, and everyone knows that. Basically, just stay hungry."
On playing a Thursday night game:
"We are the only game on TV, so it should be a packed house here. It will be fun because it's a night game and the first game of conference."
Receiver Brandon Sheperd
On playing on a Thursday night:
“I've only played two Thursday night games in my life, so it will be different.”
On how the team deals with bye weeks:
“It's more of honing our own craft and getting better at the things that we do. The next week, we'll focus on the things that they do and how we have to defend them.”
Safety Jerel Morrow
On telling new teammates about conference play:
"It's still the same focus, but it means so much more now. Our coaches have instilled in us that we need to go into every game with the preparation like it's the championship game."
On preparing for Texas Tech:
"It'll be just like we have prepared the last couple games. We try to get better every day and work on the stuff we need to work on."
On playing a Thursday night game:
"It feels a little bit different with it being the first year that I've played in one, but the coaches are preparing us well for it."