Oklahoma State may have handled Arizona rather easily in the Alamo Bowl last season, but that was then and this is now. While both teams are very similar in comparison to what they fielded in the bowl game, it is a completely different situation this time around.
The Cowboys are coming off a 27 point victory over Louisiana-Lafayette this past weekend and did it through the air and on the ground. OSU head coach Mike Gundy was satisfied with his team's production in the affair.
"Glad to get the first win behind us," Gundy said. "Our postgame media conference was pretty accurate in that we performed well on defense, ran to the ball and made tackles. Offensively, our key players made enough plays. Our special teams were good once we corrected a couple of coverage issues. Quinn kicked the ball well and it was a good win for us."
With the game on Thursday rather than Saturday, Gundy has been forced to cram in as much as possible in limited time in preparation for the contest.
"The short week makes things happen a lot faster for us," Gundy said. "We went out and practiced longer (Sunday) night than we're accustomed to."
These two squads met just a little less than nine months ago. Even though Oklahoma State came away with a sizable victory, Gundy still respects Arizona.
"We'll have to play well," Gundy said. "This is a good football team we're playing with experience at the key positions. Defensively they're very similar to what we've seen and we're used to them from preparing for the bowl. We're healthy as a football team. We're in good shape now. We just need to go out and have a good week of practice and get these guys ready to play hard on Thursday night."
The OSU head coach knows exactly what he will be facing when it comes to Arizona quarterback Nick Foles. The Wildcats' field general is an experienced leader and Gundy believes he could have his hands full with Foles.
"He's played in a lot of games," Gundy said. "So anytime you compete against a quarterback who's got a number of games experienced, you're always concerned about that. He throws the ball well. He's been accurate and throws a deep ball well."
Gundy is familiar with UA's offensive system, but also believes the Wildcats are reverting back to what made them successful in the spread offense when they first implemented it.
"Offensively, there's not a lot of difference there," Gundy said. "I see them as going back to what they originally started with. It looked like they went through a little bit of a transition in the last couple of years and I think they've gone back to what that original plan was. Other than that, it's very similar."
The OSU head coach has a plethora of talent on his offense to utilize. He will adjust his offense based on what the opposing defense gives him and believes in the weapons he has on offense to make plays.
"Our style of play from a run/pass standpoint is based on how the defense approaches us," Gundy said. "We're not a heavy tight end winged set. If they really wanted to they could force us into a lot of passes and run based on what they give us. It's hard to predict how many pass attempts or run attempts we'll get going into the game. We were fortunate that we were able to throw it around and make some plays. We've got a number of guys that can go get the ball."
Arizona's offense is pretty similar to OSU's version of the spread. Cowboys' defensive coordinator Bill Young understands that and has been preparing his squad for this game for several weeks.
"We practiced for them some during two-a-days anticipating this game and knowing it was going to be a short week, and also their offense is very, very similar to our offense," Young said. "There's a few plays that they run that we don't, but that helps prepare us. You have to think that they're in the same situation: they played Saturday also."
Even Oklahoma State linebacker Shaun Lewis seems similarities between the two offenses.
"It's the same offense from last year, they move the ball the same, they pass the ball," Lewis said. "Nick Foles is great and Keola Antolin is the same running back from last year. They're doing a lot of things that they did last year that we have already seen. Their offense is dynamic and resembles ours a slight bit."
The quick turnaround can be tough on any team. Gundy acknowledges that and has prepared his team for the short week. The head coach believes his squad will be ready for the contest on Thursday.
"With our group, we really just want to get them focused on a simple game plan," Gundy said. "We want them to play hard. I would say that most coaches on a quick turnaround worry about the fatigue of their players and whether they are going to play with a lot of energy. I would hope that our preseason plan would allow us to do that. I hope the maturity of our team will come forth and we'll be to play a great game on Thursday night."
Cowboys have respect for Arizona
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