Sunday Rewind: Can OSU Win In Texas Again?

Oklahoma State climbed to No. 12 in the Associated Press poll and moved into the top 10 at No. 10 in the USA Today Coaches Poll on Sunday. Mike Gundy's squad will move up even more if the Cowboys can defeat Texas in Austin for the third time in a row on Saturday. Here are excerpts from the Cowboys head coach's teleconference Sunday evening.

What was the best thing your team did in Saturday's 42-6 win over Kansas?
Gundy: I think our defense was consistent throughout the day, and obviously our return game was good. On kickoff return, we had the big one and then we had a number, two or three of them got out there to the 40-yard line, so we had really good starting position. Then we were able to make some big plays on offense.

How are the starting linebackers (Shaun Lewis, Caleb Lavey and Ryan Simmons) playing?
Gundy: They're playing pretty good. They've been consistent. I think the best way to describe those guys and really our defense is they've just been solid and consistent throughout the year. It's probably the first time we've had that much consistency with the defensive group, and our linebackers have been in the right place in most of the plays this season.

Is much of that because Lavey and Lewis have just been around so long and know what to do?
Gundy: It's just experience. The mistakes that they made when they were new to the game, those have gone away, and they've seen it. I've said it before there's just no substitution for experience and maturity, and that's what showed up with our defense, and those two guys have been in there a lot of snaps.

The Cowboys lost to West Virginia in September and the Longhorns lost a pair of non-conference games early in the season. Do you see any similarities between your team and Texas?
Gundy: We didn't play as well as we wanted to against West Virginia, and I think they probably feel the same way early in the season. It's a long year and every game's important but once they're over they're not important any more, you've got to go to the next game. In the preseason, I felt like there were five or six teams that could have a chance to win this league. We're seeing how it's coming down to the end, (and) from a numbers standpoint there are four or five teams that are left. That's just the way it is in college football.

Many of your players have never lost in Texas as your teams won in Austin in 2010 and 2011. Is there no longer a Texas mystique?
Gundy: I think the players that play in our games now have won so many games and played in so many big games that they just go compete against anybody. I don't think it really matters to them who they play anymore. The veteran players on this team have won … I mean these guys have won over 40 games, and they've played in big games and big bowl games, so I think they're just used to playing the next team.

What will change on punt returns if Josh Stewart is unable to play against Texas?
Gundy: Our schemes stay the exact same. We've got guys like (David) Glidden, who have been backing up Josh if he can't play.

Have you ever considered using Justin Gilbert on punt returns?
Gundy: Not really. We just try to focus on putting guys on one return unit, and haven't really had a guy that did both since Perrish Cox was here. Potentially, you play 70 plays at corner depending upon who we're playing, then you end up with three or four or five (kickoff) returns, and then you end up with 10 punt returns and sometimes they play gunner and before you know it they're over 100 plays.

How much fun was the '88 reunion last night?
Gundy: It was good. I didn't get to see those guys until after the game… I actually went down to Eskimo Joe's and spent about an hour with them. It was really good to see those guys. I really think it's important for Oklahoma State to continue to find a way to build tradition here and by bringing back players of great football teams here. Our team is aware of it. There is so much media coverage now days in those situations that I think it's great for Oklahoma State football to get those guys back. It was really nice to see them.

Barry Sanders had a lot of positives things to say about the job you've done. Did you get a lot of positive comments from former teammates?
Gundy: Yeah, they're all being really nice. But to a certain extent they know me really well, they knew me when we were young. They're all very appreciative of Oklahoma State and where we're at (as a program). I think they're shocked with the facilities that are here. They all said they were very proud of our team and the competitive nature that we have here. We've fortunately developed an organization and a football team here that can compete with just about anybody in the country on any given day in the last four or five years, so I think they're proud of that being former players.

Were there one or two players you haven't seen in a long time and really enjoyed seeing?
Gundy: Well, (former offensive lineman) Byron Woodard. We hadn't seen him in a long, long time, and then Gerald Hudson was here and I haven't seen Gerald in a long time. His wife had come to some of our functions in Dallas when we were there but he was always working. It was good to see him. There were a number of guys that I hadn't seen in a while, but those two come to mind.

You control your own destiny entering the final three games of the season. This is where you want to be, correct?
Gundy: It takes a lot to get to this position and you never know how things are going to fall. These guys have worked hard. It's probably the most growth and development of team chemistry that I've seen in a football team that I've been the head coach of over a six-week period. The guys have come together and really worked and put time and effort in and played unselfish. They've done it. It's always about the players. They have to make that decision. I've been really proud of them. It's been a lot of fun coaching this team.

Why do you think this group has developed such great chemistry the past six weeks?
Gundy: I don't know. I wish … if we knew we do it every year. We've been fortunate here that we've had good leadership and chemistry, but this team was later in developing that. I didn't see it until five, six weeks ago. Now they've kinda jelled and they really enjoy being around each other.

Did it take something like the loss at West Virginia to make that happen?
Gundy: It could have. You never know what triggers those situations. It's different each year. We're not sure why because we don't change much as a staff, our philosophy, (and) our approach stays the same. You've got to get lucky some times, and these guys have done a really nice job of coming together as a group.

Receivers Austin Hays, Blake Jackson and Blake Webb haven't played since September. Are those three eligible to redshirt and receive another year of eligibility?
Gundy: Those guys haven't played enough snaps to count for a year. (Numbers) 84 (Hays) and 85 (Webb), I don't know if we can get them back (this season). They practice and they're out there but we don't think they're moving around as well as we would want them to. We're trying to get Blake (Jackson), he's a little bit further along than them, so it would be nice to get him back.

Are Hays and Webb done for the year?
Gundy: I don't know. But they haven't played enough plays to lose a year (of eligibility).

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