Oklahoma State football coach Mike Gundy and selected members of the team visited with the media on Monday in Boone Pickens Stadium. The 10th-ranked Pokes travel to Austin this Saturday to face the 24th ranked Longhorns, the first of three games against teams ranked in the Top 25.
OSU has won two of the past three against Texas, including the last two games played in Austin.
Coach Mike Gundy
"You’re at that point in the season where you have to win one to get to stay in the race. If we wouldn’t have played well and beat Kansas then that would have been a big game. You have to continue to move forward. This will be a new challenge for us. This is a very talented football team and we’re playing on the road. We’ve got our work cut out for us. We’ve been consistent up to this point defensively. We need to improve our consistency on offense. We’ve gotten better but we have to continue to improve. I think that we’ve improved in our kicking game, with the exception of last week. We had a couple of young guys that got pushed around on one of the returns, but for the most part our coverage has been good. We have to have a good week of practice. When you play in games of this magnitude on the road, it’s important to protect the ball. You have to find a way to win two of the three phases and give yourself the best chance to win."
On if there is any concern that Kansas was able to stop the running game
"Most times coaches watch tape and find areas that concern us. It’s interesting, the game is never as good as you thought it was or never as bad as you think it is. Kansas committed to stopping the run. If we had to do it over again, we probably would have just thrown more passes down the field. The flow of the game didn’t direct us that way. We need to improve our blocking and we need to improve our ability to run the football which helps us throw it. It’s been the same formula with us for a number of years."
On if the players get caught up playing on the road
"I’m not really concerned with that. We’ve had success there. We have a number of guys on this team who have competed in big games. They’ve played against ranked opponents and in big bowl games and dealt with the television involved. I think they’ll be fine in that area."
"Texas is as good as anybody in this league and arguably the best team in this league up front on both sides of the ball. They cause a lot of issues in their ability to rush the passer. They have a good running game. They’re blocking and getting downhill and running the ball effectively."
On how he feels about the team going into Saturday’s game
"We don’t have a choice. Where you are is where you are. I don’t think there’s any question that we are a much better football team than we were a month and a half ago. That’s a credit to the players. They’ve made a decision to work hard together and improve, and they have. I like our leadership and I like the maturity of our team right now and I like their chemistry."
On how to stop the Texas running game
"I think we’re better up front and essentially overall on defensive than we have been since I’ve been the head coach here. This team brings a different style to the plate. I think they’re going to try and pound on us and run downhill. I’d say they’re justified in their ability to do that. Their back’s a good runner. I know they lost the other one, but this one is a good player. They have a lot of speed. They’re going to hand the ball off or flip it to those guys and let them run around the corner and try and out run everybody. They’ve done that for a number of years. It’s a great challenge for us. You have to be in the right spot and you have to make sure you’re gap responsible and you’ve got to get guys down and tackle them in space."
Offensive Coordinator Mike Yurcich
On the recent play of the offensive line
"We have six guys playing right now, and we feel good about what's going on up there. They're doing a good job of communicating and gelling as a unit. There's a lot of teamwork that has to go on up front, so reps are important because the more reps they get together, the better they're going to be as a whole."
On going against the Texas pass rush
"Getting rid of the ball quickly is something we always want to stress to our quarterbacks. Obviously recognizing the defensive fronts and practicing against some of their favorite blitzes will help us know what to look for. The pre-snap looks; the two or three seconds before the ball is snapped, are critical. We want to make sure we're going at an upbeat tempo and dictating the pace of the game. We don't want to give them a chance to adjust."
On the increasing importance of each game
"I think our guys are taking it one game at a time, and they understand how important Tuesday is right now. It's a big practice for us. It's a mindset, and it starts at the top. Coach Gundy sends that message, and our guys are smart enough to understand what's at stake here. It's all about the next game."
Defensive Coordinator Glenn Spencer
On the challenges of defending Texas
"They're powerful. The offensive line is really good. For big guys, when they make contact, they don't absorb. They drive. As a staff, we look at them and think this is the best offensive line we've seen this year. It has power and quickness. The running backs run so hard, and they have skill guys who can keep you honest. There's a reason they've won their last six games while averaging 35 points per game."
On the type of tempo the Texas offense uses
"I think they pick their times to go really fast, as opposed to just no-huddle fast. There are times they will be lined up and ready to run their play regardless of what the defense is showing, but there are other times where they line up fast to try to get the defense to show their hand, and then check into the correct play. What I respect is their ability to change the tempo like that. You have to have your next call ready to go in your mind. We have to do a good job in the box of figuring out the pattern as the game goes along."
On what Case McCoy brings to the table as a quarterback
"They've averaged 35 points per game in the last six games, going against defenses like Oklahoma, Kansas State and TCU. Of course in every game they tweak some things because they're good coaches. They find things that work. It comes down to the guys up front getting a hat on a hat. The line of scrimmage has been going backward, and the running backs have been falling forward. I haven't seen many negative-yardage plays from them in the past few weeks. They create momentum, and they have been moving the ball on people."
Linebacker Caleb Lavey
On preparing for Texas
"It was pretty big getting to go out in front of that big crowd and leaving Austin with a victory a couple of years ago. It’s always a huge accomplishment. It’s also a tough environment. They have a lot of fans, and it gets pretty rowdy there. We are going to have to prepare ourselves to take the crowd out of it and prepare for a good opponent."
On the linebackers’ improvement
"I would say that with the number of games and the amount of reps we play together, we have a lot more confidence in our fits and how to play. We know what the other is doing and we know the other’s job. The defensive line does a great job of keeping them off, so we can’t take all the credit. Everyone has been playing really well together."
On playing the last few games of his college career
"It went by a lot faster than I thought it would. I love it here, and I love the team. I just have to soak up every moment, even in practice. I just have to enjoy the time that I get to spend around my teammates and coaches and take it all in before it’s over."
Receiver Charlie Moore
On the team chemistry
"It’s all around. For example, we, as a receiving corps, have dinner at my house every Thursday night. It’s just such a close, tight-knit group. We’re friends, teammates and brothers, and that just makes it so special. Building those relationships outside the locker room helps us to really play for each other. That’s how you win in college football."
On looking ahead to the rest of the season
"Coach Dunn told us yesterday that you can see the big picture, but it all starts for us on Saturday. It’s an exciting time of the season. We have to make sure that we focus on Texas this week, and get the game plan. We have to take it one game at a time, but we know that the Big 12 Championship isn’t there if we don’t win this week. That makes it a little easier to stay focused."
Safety Daytawion Lowe
On what the team needs to finish strong
"We just take it one game at a time. We just prepare every day and it's just going to come down to preparing daily and getting better."
On the team's mindset for away games
"We're just going to go in there and focus. We rely on our guys that we're bringing along to keep us up. We know we're going to have to fight through adversity and just keep moving forward."
On Cornerback Kevin Peterson's first year as a starter
"He played a lot last year, so he already knew what it would take to come in. There wasn't much we had to tell him or show him. He's been grinding. He stepped into a leadership role on the team."
Offensive Lineman Brandon Webb
On maintaining the offense's momentum
"We're just trying to scheme it up, get our guys going and figuring everything out. Up front, we want to get five on five. We want to get five guys blocked and get our running backs to the open land so they can do what they like to do. When we run the ball, it makes passing that much easier, so if we can do that, I think we'll continue to be pretty successful."
On still being in the hunt for the Big 12 championship so late in the season
"It's not really that much pressure. It's what we want. There's not really that much pressure if that's what you want to do. We had to sit back with our loss, but everything that we wanted was still out there. That's what we're trying to achieve."
Cornerback Kevin Peterson
On returning to play against Kansas after sitting out at Texas Tech
"I didn't mind watching, but it was fun (playing again) because I got to get back into the flow of things after not playing at Texas Tech. I got to get back in the flow and get my feet back underneath me."
On facing the Texas offense
"It will be fun because I know that they will be some of the best athletes that we have faced all year. With the run game they have, they may be the best run game we've faced all year as well. With seeing how our defense has played so far, it's going to be fun to be able to play an offense of their caliber."
On Texas quarterback Case McCoy
"With the little film we've seen so far, we've seen that he throws the deep ball really well. When he has time he can make all of the throws across the field. We really respect him as a passer, and he has some really great athletes out there, so we're going to have to play some of the best defense we've played all year."
Defensive End Jimmy Bean
On attacking the Texas offensive line
"We prepare with our practice during the week. We go aggressively against our guys, and it will turn into aggressiveness during the game."
On the OSU defensive
"I feel like we've played well all year. We've been technically sound and Coach Spencer always has a good game plan for us coming up every week."
On how to stop Case McCoy
"We stop him by getting pressure on him, making him nervous and making him move his feet."
Receiver Tracy Moore
On his relationship with Clint Chelf
"We're really close. Our parents sit next to each other every game. We've been really close just because of how long we've been on the team together since our freshman year."
On playing Texas on the road this week
"We're going to be ready. Any time you have to play on the road in a Big 12 environment, it's going to be a big game. Texas has probably one of the biggest stadiums we're going to play in."
On if the atmosphere in Austin will fire the team up
"Oh yeah. It's always a motivating factor when you know there's going to be 100-something thousand fans down there. It's going to be a big challenge, but we won't shy away from it."
Channel 8's Ethan Calloway reports.
Channel 8's Ethan Calloway reports.