Sunday Rewind: Gundy Says Defense Was Good

It was as you would expect when visiting with Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy following a first game. He wasn't claiming his team was anywhere near the finished product but there were things that pleased him. To start with, much like he was after the game, Gundy was impressed with the defense and how the Cowboys controlled the game, especially after the first couple of series.

In the Cowboys defense's first game with Glenn Spencer as coordinator, the unit gave up just three points and 333 yards. Take away the first two series and the number is 228 yards.

"I was really pleased with the way our defense responded and our coaches made adjustments, our effort running to the ball," said Gundy.

"One of the more pleasing aspects the entire game was the way we were able to become more effective and handle their fronts, both offensively and defensively. Stopping the run and running the ball were really the keys to the game.

"I think our linebackers played good. Caley Lavey played well. Tyler Johnson played well. We had guys that were running to the football. I thought we did a better job of covering at the corner position than we have done the past few years. We were able to rotate some guys in and keep some guys fresh."

The defensive ends were one of the bigger concerns entering the first game because of their inexperience, Gundy was complimentary to a degree.

"The effort was good," said Gundy. "Tyler was better obviously. His experience paid off. Sam Wren got his first taste of pass rushing against a 350-pound guy. There's some adjustments that have to take place.

"And some of the younger guys did OK. But they played like you would expect. They don't have any experience. First time out of the bag, they end up playing against big-time offensive linemen. Tyler was better because he has played against them before."

One of the bigger momentum plays in the game that kind of went undetected was the last play of the first half when after a Walsh to Josh Stewart 21-yard completion the Cowboys called time out to send freshman kicker Ben Grogan on to attempte a 49-yard field goal.

The kick was was blocked and Mississippi State's Taveze Calhoun returned it 68 yards to the Oklahoma State 10-yard line. It could have been a disaster but Gundy cited great effort by a pair of linemen, one on each side of the ball. The head coach had asked me in the halftime locker room who made the tackle and I told him Brandon Garrett and Davidell Collins, but I'm not sure he believed me at the time.

"We just now talked about it in our team meeting. Brandon Garrett and Davidell stopped that guy and made a play down there," Gundy said with enthusiasm. "There was a huge momentum swing and it was a downer for them because they got stopped and it put us in a good mood going in at halftime. It was certainly a big play in the game.

"Kip Smith punted well," added Gundy continuing on special teams. "I had told you I was happy with him and he did fine."

Smith averaged 45.2 yards on six kicks.

With Travis Cross starting and Chris Grisbhy, despite a busted hand playing a lot, playing at right guard, and with some of the other starters including Parker Graham banged up some leading up to the game, the offensive line did the job.

"They played okay and stayed on their guys," said Gundy. "They had good effort and wore (Mississippi State defensive line) them down. I was proud of them."

Other items Gundy was happy about were downfield blocking, although the penalties were frustrating and have to be corrected. To a question from Gina Mizell of The Oklahoman, he said it was too early to consider, even with J.W. Walsh as the starting quarterback, that the offense has found its identity. He said that could take three to four games to really establish.

"He has improved overall. I think he is a better passer," Gundy said of Walsh. "He still has a ways to go. But he's a better passer than he was, and I think he understands our offense more than he did at this time last year."

Asked about communicating with Clint Chelf, Gundy said, "I would never talk about anything like that. It's kind of a private matter.

"But as I said with Clint, he's an important part of our team and we have to make decisions and we have made a decision that J.W. is going to be the starter. We certainly want Clint to be with us and continue to work and improve and if he is in the game, we would expect him to play well like last year. No question."

Gundy closed his visit with the media by complimenting his former offensive coordinator when he was a quarterback at Oklahoma State in UTSA head coach Larry Coker.

"He's done a good job with them," said Gundy of the 1-0 Roadrunners that beat New Mexico on the road Saturday night 21-13 finishing the game off with a 99-yard offensive drive and a defensive stop to clinch it.

"They have come a long way and made a big run there at the end of the game," added Gundy.

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