Mike Gundy Speaks Candidly About Run Game

Mike Gundy and the Oklahoma State coaching staff are using the bye week to look for solutions to a struggling run game.

STILLWATER – Oklahoma State was back on the practice field Wednesday for the first time since the 33-26 overtime win last Saturday over West Virginia. The emphasis on the offensive practice field was on the run game. The first-team and second-team offenses worked against a scout team in bright blue jerseys representing the homecoming opponent next week in the winless Kansas Jayhawks.

The team will practice again early Thursday morning and then be done until Sunday as the coaching staff hits the road recruiting over the next three days. It is head coach Mike Gundy's plan with two practices surround on either side by 72 hours of "R and R" for his unbeaten Cowboys. Now there are things to address with the two practices and then next week leading up to the 2:30 p.m. kickoff with KU Oct. 24. 

"Things we need to improve on are downfield coverage, need to continue to work and try to run the ball better," Gundy said of what he is looking to address during the bye week. "We've self-scouted to try to eliminate mistakes and things that our opponents would be aware of.

"There are some guys that are dinged up, nothing serious, and that falls in the rest category. Really X's and O's we're continuing to work on our running game each week because we are not running the ball well enough to finish this half of the season and even the next game."

Believe me, I know addressing questions and comments on the GoPokes.com Premium Board that running the ball better is the number one concern of fans. It is also the top concern of Gundy. The offense was looking at some new material Wednesday as they have frequently during the season. 

"We're going to make some changes from a scheme standpoint and hopefully it will benefit us and then we will have to re-evaluate it before the next game and move forward," Gundy explained in addressing the run game.

Cowboy fans have to love hearing what Gundy is saying. There are more gripes about first down. They range from don't run the ball at all, to run it outside, to run it with pulling linemen, to run it on reverses and jet flips only, and about every other scheme known to football armchair quarterbacks and grandstand coaches. 

"We stink on first down. I don't know what else to say," Gundy said being brutally honest. "You know I put a suggestion box outside the stadium for anybody that's got any ideas on first down. We're just not very good on first downs. We need to improve in that area. We have a six-game self-scout and it shows how poor we've been on first down."

This team is unbeaten despite the run game being ninth in the Big 12 and averaging a paltry 137.5 yards a game. They are also unbeaten despite quarterback Mason Rudolph throwing just four touchdown passes and six interceptions in Big 12 games. Gundy admits his young quarterback is still developing and growing into the role, but he could use a big assist from a better run game.

"If we will run the ball better, it works together. (You guys know) if you're not effective running the football then (on defense) there are more people playing pass, and if there are more people playing pass then it is harder to find creases to throw the ball into," Gundy said in elaborating on the offense. "In my opinion (Mason) needs to improve and we need to run the ball better but there are no red flags being thrown up yet. If we will improve running the football that is the best thing we can do for him." 

Gundy is being honest. The head coach is candid, and at the same time, with all the corrections needed he is happy too. It's that bottom line of 6-0 and that rock solid defense that makes it possible to stink on first down and still smile.

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