Gundy: Cowboys Overcame Adversity Vs. A&M

STILLWATER – The challenges of playing in the Big 12 Conference can break even the strongest team. That's what had Mike Gundy worried when his Oklahoma State Cowboys traveled to College Station, Texas, a year ago to face Texas A&M. But Gundy's team overcame the news earlier in the week that All-American receiver Dez Bryant would be lost for the season to defeat the Aggies 36-31.

Playing without Bryant, who had been ruled ineligible for the remainder of the 2009 season after lying to NCAA investigators about his relationship with former NFL player Deion Sanders, and with running back Kendall Hunter still sidelined with a foot injury, the Cowboys won at Kyle Field for only the second time since 1983.

"A&M was a great win for us last year. One, because it was on the road, and (two), we had some tough situations and the players were able to overcome some adversity," Gundy said on Thursday while addressing the media prior to the Cowboys' Big 12 Conference opener next Thursday, Sept 30, against Texas A&M.

Gundy and the Cowboy coaching staff hopes it doesn't have to deal with any of the same issues leading up to next Thursday's nationally televised game (ESPN) at Boone Pickens Stadium.

The Cowboys and the Aggies will enter the game with 3-0 records, and have two of the highest ranked offenses in the nation. Neither Oklahoma State nor Texas A&M play this weekend, and will have had 12 days to prepare for the Big 12 opener following victories last Saturday (OSU crushed Tulsa, 65-28, while A&M rallied to defeat Florida International, 27-20).

"We're looking forward to a Thursday night game against A&M," Gundy said on Thursday during his weekly news conference. "They are very similar to what they did last year, in our opinion.

"The quarterback (Jarrod Johnson) makes a lot of plays. They've got those two backs, No. 32 (Cyrus Gray) and No. 33 (Christine Michael), who are good players. No. 8 (Jeffrey Fuller), the wide receiver, makes a lot of plays."

While Oklahoma State has the No. 1-ranked passing offense in the nation, Texas A&M averages 296.7 passing yards a game to rank 14th. The Cowboys, with Hunter leading the way, has the 29th-best running game in the nation with an average of 204.33 yards per game. A&M rushing attack is No. 27 with 204.67 yards per game.

"I would expect them to try to pound it at us, run the football, (and) keep the ball from us," said Gundy. They have the capability of doing that. They run some power. They do some different things in different sets. They try to throw the ball down the field, and try to take advantage of (Johnson's) strength. We'll have to do a good job of containing him, and keeping him in the pocket."

Johnson, the preseason All-Big 12 quarterback for the Aggies, struggled this past weekend against Florida International. He was just 11 of 31 passing for 194 yards with four interceptions and he was sacked six times.

The senior from Humble, Texas had offseason shoulder surgery and there is speculation that he hasn't fully recovered. But Gundy isn't buying any of that talk.

"I don't know for sure but from what we've seen, one advantage that he has is he's a big, strong guy and he can fling it. Whether he's as strong as he was or not, it's hard for us to really tell," said Gundy. "But I don't really think that's going to affect his ability to throw the ball in the seams because he's big and strong.

"A player that doesn't have the physical capabilities that he has, it could affect a lot more. But a guy like that, even if he were to lose a little bit or he doesn't have it back yet, he can still throw it pretty good."

The Aggies also have one of the nation's top-ranked defenses. They are ranked 10th in total defense, allowing an average of 255.7 yards per game.

"Defensively, they blitz a lot. They'll dial up a blitz, different kind of pressures," said Gundy. "They still have No. 40 (Von Miller) who is a good pass rusher. It will be a little different for our group (because) we haven't seen lots of blitzes ... We'll see a considerable number of more going into this game."


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