A Conversation With Mike Gundy: Part 2

We had a chance to converse with Cowboys head coach Mike Gundy last week on a variety of topics ranging from where his team is heading into the summer to how the OSU staff will handle the time they get to work with the players this summer as a the result of a new NCAA rule. Here is part two of our conversation with Mike Gundy that originated on my radio show on Triple Play Sports Radio Network.

I know this sounds kind of silly, but one of the things that will help with the time you have to work with the players this summer is teaching freshmen how to watch video. Learning how to do that and get the most out of meeting time with the coaches is important, correct?
Gundy: No question, the introduction to college football and the schedule that is required of our players here, both in the classroom and on the field, is something we have to instill in them. How to watch tape? And we start with turning your cell phone off and leaving it out the door is the start because we have to have the guys pay attention.

It is really difficult in my opinion for these guys to pay attention to anything with their phone lighting up all the time with Twitter and text messages and all the kinds of communication that young people use in society these days.

We have to train them in many ways and I think it goes back to the John Wooden concept. If you study it, he had a very strict regiment schedule that he stayed with. From the first day he taught them how to put their socks on, shoes on, and how to tie them properly so they didn't get blisters in practice. At first, that might seem very elementary, but he was very thorough and he was going to be that way in every area and every step of the way.

We try to take that same concept here at Oklahoma State. It starts in the beginning with how we want them to study tape, how we want them to practice, how to take care of yourself, hydration and nutrition, and it all starts from day one.

You talk all the time about the chemistry and leadership of your team. I know that started in the spring and continues in the summer as they will be together a lot without coaches. Who do you see developing or continuing to develop as leaders on your team?
Gundy: Each year in winter conditioning through spring ball and into summer conditioning, which we are about to have now, we've always identified the leaders of our team and the ones that understand what it takes to have success here. The advantage we have now is we have had a considerable amount of success over the last four or five years and these players here when they get pushed to the limit during the summer there will be enough of them that will be able to push through and pull the others with them.

This is the time of year that you win games in June, July and August, and then you go out and compete, stay healthy, and play smart in September, October, November, December. We've been very fortunate and there are a number of guys that you mentioned like J.W. (Walsh) and (James) Castleman, Kevin Peterson, and Ryan Simmons and (Jimmy) Bean and even (Sam) Wren.

You know, Ofa (Hautau) for (being here) just a year and a number of those guys step up and show leadership. Des Roland will be a guy that will show great leadership for us this summer and two years ago you know Desmond Roland wasn't sure he wanted to be a college football player. That is a sign and it is proof that the system and what we have in place at Oklahoma State works. We are working to develop them in all different areas. It will help them and make them better fathers and better men. That is what our plan is and it all takes place in the summer.

I forgot one name and that is Daniel Koenig, a senior on the offensive line. He is not a guy that I expect to get up in front of the team and talk about work ethic and those kinds of things, but I saw him do that this spring. He was more known in the past for starting a fight nearly every day in practice. He has really matured.

Gundy: He started to make the transition. It is fun to watch him because he is a funny young man. He is pretty quiet but he takes a lot of pride in what he does each day. I kind of ride the offensive line because I have so much respect for them.

It is a position that is difficult to play because in most cases they are the least athletic players on the field and they weight 300 pounds and we run a no-huddle offense so they don't get much of a break and it's tough in there. Your shoulders are sore, your hands are sore, and your fingers are broken, so it's not easy.

Koenig used to get so mad and flustered at me but he has learned to deal with me now in being here as long as he has. He has started to instill that in some of the younger players and he has become a good player for us. He is a leader and will be a very good performer in the fall.

My son and one of your former players, Zach was in town recruiting this past week for NEO A&M Junior College, and his head coach at NEO, Ryan Held, asked me how Tyreek Hill was doing. Held coached against Tyreek when he was at Garden City Community College in Kansas. Held said he thought Hill was a huge difference maker and said in junior college teams had to design their defensive game plans to stop him. How critical is Hill and his contributions coming into this season?

Gundy: We're all excited about Tyreek, and I'm most impressed at this point with his attitude and his work ethic and how he has handled himself. Anytime you bring in a young man in from junior college you don't know as much about them as high school players because they have been away from home and they can develop good skills or poor skills, good attitude or poor attitude depending on how things have gone for them in junior college.

He came here right away and had instant success and national recognition in track and that was very well deserved. I was a little concerned in how he would handle that. When he was around us and around the players he would act as if that didn't even happen. I was very impressed with that. His transition that he is making from the three positions that he needs to play, outside receiver, inside receiver, and running back, and then also touch the ball in the return game and we would like for him to touch the ball 20 times a game.

You take the percentages of the game and special teams based on kickoff and punt returns, depending on the ability on the other team's punter and coverage team you would think that he would be able to touch the ball with the ability, not with a kick out of the end zone or a fair catch, four or five times a game. Then if he get seven, eight, or nine carries and then seven, eight, or nine touches in the throwing game then he can get the ball 20 times a game.

That should be enough to allow him to stay fresh and healthy and still have the ability to impact the game as positive as we would like. At this point we really like where he is at and what he could mean to our football team.

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