Oklahoma State football coach Mike Gundy and members of the team visited with the media Thursday in Boone Pickens Stadium to preview the season-opening Advocare Texas Kickoff against Mississippi State.
“We’re obviously excited that the game is getting closer. We still have four quality practices ahead. Our team has done very well over the last month of avoiding distractions. I think they’ve started to create a little bit of an identity for themselves this year. I still like our speed on defense. I like our attitude. We’re still getting steady play from the offensive line. Both quarterbacks have continued to improve and play well. We’ve got a number of receivers that can run around and catch the ball. Our tailbacks, we’re still developing a young back behind Jeremy. I’m comfortable with our kicking game. Really, anything that I would say now would just be what I’ve already said over the last few weeks. There hasn’t been any change in how I feel about our team. We need to continue to practice well over the next four or five days, and we’ll find where we’re at a week from this Saturday.”
On his confidence in Jeremy Smith:
“Well one is that he’s the next guy. Two, he’s played well, scored and made some good runs against really good, quality opponents in our league.”
On any concerns with the team:
“Just the first game. You always have players that go out and haven’t played and don’t have any experience. How they’ll react in the first game (is a concern).”
On the player’s mindset preparing for Mississippi State compared to Savannah State last year:
“I think the players know what they’re into by watching tape. Last year, we never tried to convince them of anything other than what was up. We needed to try to perform at our highest level and not concern ourselves with who we’re playing. This year, we have the advantage of playing a good football team. They can watch the tape and make those decisions on their own.”
On the quarterback situation:
“We’re going to play both guys. It hasn’t changed since spring. Both quarterbacks have improved. I don’t know any other way to say it. It’s the same thing I’ve said for the last five months. Both guys are doing a good job. We’re glad we have them. They’ll both get a chance to play.”
On the playing time for both quarterbacks in the first game:
“I don’t know. It’s going to be hard for me to predict reps, but I don’t feel like either one of them will be a backup in the first game.”
Offensive Coordinator Mike Yurcich
On facing an SEC defense next week:
"I think our guys are really excited for this opportunity, regardless of the opponent. Mississippi State is going to be a challenge because they're a very good team. They're tough and they're physical. We're just excited to get out there and play somebody that's not wearing orange."
On facing the doubts of being a first year coordinator at the Division I level:
"We're just trying to win games here. I'm just a little piece of a big puzzle, honestly. We're just trying to work together and win some ball games, so it's not about one person. We just need to do what it takes, be organized and be detailed in our work. It's my job to prepare our guys and have them ready to go on the field."
On his biggest concern going into this year's season opener:
"Making sure that we understand our assignments and making sure that we review the plays that we're going to run in the game will be important. That's our priority right now, to make sure everyone has the right mindset toward our game plan and how we plan on executing once the whistle blows."
On the most important preparations that he hopes to incorporate with the team:
"I think the things you have to concern yourself with are the execution and the effort level, which have both been really good."
Defensive Coordinator Glenn Spencer
On finally getting to face an opponent other than teammates in practice:
"It has definitely been a challenge. We've responded pretty well, though. I've been around some places where it has been kind of bad, but here it goes back to having older guys and having some leadership that helps us grind it out and to help put in two to three hours of work. It hasn't been at the utmost highest level every practice, but we've been able to handle it pretty well so far."
On if his terminology has changed since making the switch to defensive coordinator:
"The terminology is the same, which has been good for all the experienced guys. With the additions that we've made, we just kind of help them blend in. It's been an easy transition so far, especially with all the experienced guys helping out the young guys and helping them get acclimated with our system."
On how observers should characterize his defense:
"We just play defense. I don't have a brand for it because it's all about performance, executing and doing your best each day in practice. I'm not concerned about giving us a label because we're going to go out there and do what we do."
On playing on a neutral field in the season opener:
"Anytime you're traveling on the road to play somewhere else, it's going to be a little uncomfortable compared to playing at home. The neutral field is rowdy, but it's not our field. That's the way we look at it. We have guys making the trip who haven't played yet and haven't traveled, so they don't know how to approach a game yet. Until they get hit in the mouth on that first snap, you just don't know exactly how they're going to react."
Wide receiver Charlie Moore
On Marcell Ateman:
“He’s gotten a lot of attention from the defense and from the coaches. He’s doing very well.”
On playing in Reliant Stadium:
“I have a lot of friends and family from the Houston area. I’m from east Texas, but my whole family will be at the game. It’s not a long drive. My best friend and my brother are going to be making the trip. It’s going to be really cool. I can’t wait to play there. I’ve never been there, actually.”
On his feelings for the season:
“I’m just excited to get the season rolling. Just being around the guys and this being my last year with them, I’m having a great time just helping guys out and doing all I can for the team. I’m just excited with where I’m at.”
Safety Daytawion Lowe
On Lyndell Johnson:
“It’s always a different type of style coming from a linebacker to safety, but he has found a way to get it done. It shocked me how fast he got it down. It looked like he had been playing safety for four years. The way he just reversed the roles and got it so fast was impressive to me. We’ve got him in a lot of different positions. He is going to be a factor.”
On the style of play for defense:
“We’ve been playing aggressively. We’re challenging the receivers to catch the ball and making the quarterbacks put it in a tight window. That’s what every defensive player wants. You get turnovers that way.”
Running Back Jeremy Smith
On the Mississippi State defense:
“They have a great defense and a great defensive coordinator. We pretty much have to do what we know how to do, which is move the ball fast. I think that if we can get them tired, then it will be a good game for us.”
On the strength of the Big 12:
“You can never ever count the Big 12 out. The SEC has done a great job of winning national championships, but you can never count a Big 12 team out. We’re always competing, and again, it’s all about moving the ball for us.”
On the quarterbacks:
“[Clint Chelf and J.W. Walsh] are doing a great job. I really can’t choose either one. Both are showing some really great things, and you just have to look out for both of them. I get reps with both of them every single time. Again, they are both really talented and know what they’re doing.”
Wide receiver Tracy Moore
On Coach Gundy’s 7-1 record in opening games:
“He knows how to work the team and has everyone ready to go on game days. He knows not to have us work too hard during the week but still has us work hard enough during the week to have us ready for game day.”
On the quarterback play:
“They both have their strengths and weaknesses. They are both great players. It doesn’t really matter who starts because we have faith in both guys to go out there and perform well.”
On the connection level with the quarterbacks:
“We have a great connection. I have been friends with Clint since the beginning. We both came in here at the same time and have just hit it off ever since. J.W. is a great person too, though. I met him on his first visit here, and we also have a great connection.”
Cornerback Justin Gilbert
On your favorite part of being at Oklahoma State:
“Being a part of this football team is my favorite part of being here.”
On preparing for the season:
“We’ve really just been getting our defense set and watching a lot of film lately to prepare for the upcoming season.”
On the younger cornerbacks:
“They are looking pretty good. We have a couple guys who didn’t play much last year who are going to step up this year and play well for us I believe.”
Defensive Tackle Calvin Barnett
On the journey from playing in junior college to being an important asset of OSU’s defense:
"It has definitely been a long journey, and I felt like I would never be where I'm at right now. It was a real grind to get here, and now I'm playing in my last season here. It took everything I had, but my family helped me keep my mind straight. Now I'm here, and I'm just trying to keep it going."
On if he thinks the defense can be more aggressive this year:
"To be honest, I knew that we were going to be aggressive right off the bat after I heard that Coach Spencer got the defensive coordinator job. He coached me for a year before that, so I knew he would bring his aggressive mentality to the defense. With what we've been working on in practice and the schemes we're looking to bring in games, we're definitely going to be aggressive."
On what he's looking forward to most his senior year:
"I'm really just looking to do everything in my power to help my team win. That's what it all comes down to."
Linebacker Shaun Lewis
On competing with SEC:
"We want to prove that our defense is dominant every Saturday, not just against an SEC opponent. We just want to establish that no matter who we're playing, whether it’s Savannah State like last year, or Mississippi State this year. We're just excited to go out and prove next Saturday that we belong."
On differences in practice from last year's opener against Savannah State:
"I wouldn't say it's so much the opponent, but the excitement level of being able to go to Houston to play. We're going to take every opponent seriously because anybody can lose any given Saturday. We practice as normal, and we practice with a lot of intensity and try to cut back on mistakes."
On playing a regular season game in an NFL stadium:
"I played in Reliant Stadium my junior year (of high school) for the state championship. It's an awesome stadium, and I'm excited about it."
On getting familiar with Reliant Stadium:
"Our coaches do a good job of helping us get adapted to the stadium and its surroundings. We're at ease wherever we go whether it's somewhere we haven't been before or Reliant Stadium, it doesn't really matter."
Offensive Lineman Parker Graham
On OSU’s four-minute drill in practice:
"That's one of my favorite drills because the defense knows what’s coming around, we're going to run the ball and we're going to run it at you and see if you can stop us. We do that day in and day out whenever we have that in the script. It's a lot of fun to get out there and see what plays we're going to use to try to run the clock out on people."
On important of success in his senior season:
"The anticipation is just incredible. Every day, I wake up and I'm ready to get better. This is the last hoorah for a lot of the guys up here, and the excitement is building every day. We're getting a lot closer, and we're however many days out from playing a game, and we're going to be ready to go when we get out there.
On what he expects from the Mississippi State defensive line:
"They're an SEC team. They're going to be big, they're going to be athletic and they're going to be pretty nasty. We have to make sure we bring our lunch pail to work."