Gundy, Barnett Ready For Big 12 Opener

As the Cowboys and Colorado Buffaloes head into their Big 12 openers this Saturday at Boone Pickens Stadium in Stillwater the two teams are coming off vastly different weekends. Colorado finsihed up its nonconference slate with a trip to hot, humid Miami and a 23-3 loss to the 10th-ranked Hurricanes. The Buffs struggled to score and turned the ball over. Other than the score and turnovers it was a very even game and that is the way OSU head coach Mike Gundy saw it on television.

"Colorado stood toe to toe with Miami." said Gundy. "Miami hit two big pass plays. Colorado ran the ball on Miami and Colorado stuffed Miami most of the game. There is not much difference between those two teams. Honestly, I thought the difference between those two teams was that Miami had a couple of great skill players on the perimeter that made two or three big plays for them in the throwing game. Other than that Colorado played even up with Miami on their own field. They ran to the football and played hard. Colorado's quarterback played tough. Miami hit him and he got back up and continued to play well. He continued to fight and showed why he is a good player in this league."

CU quarterback Joel Klatt did show a lot of toughness fighting off a turf toe that had him in a boot on Monday, but CU head coach Gary Barnett said his starting quarterback will be back in practice on Tuesday and will be good to go in Stillwater on Saturday. There is a decent difference in the ages of the two head coaches, but they are both longtime Big 12 and previously Big Eight guys. Barnett has coached against Gundy the quarterback and assistant coach many times. He is familiar with Gundy's two major influences – Pat Jones and Les Miles. Gundy knows Barnett too, and he sees in this Colorado team a typical Gary Barnett bunch.

"They have a power running game, what I would call a typical Barnett team with his background in the wishbone and the I-bone and what he has done at Colorado the past few years," Gundy said of the CU offense. "They are going to use two tight ends, a fullback, and run the power play right at you. They will force you to stop the running game and then do a great job with the play action pass and throw verticals down the field with the tight end and the wide receivers."

While the Cowboys didn't play on Saturday and Gundy gave his players the weekend to rest up, OSU did put in the work last week. Gundy said his list of things to do with this team was long on both sides of the ball.

"I think we made progress on both sides of the ball," Gundy said of the open week. "We need to tackle better in space on defense and we need to play the ball better. We should have had three interceptions against Arkansas State and we didn't come up with the ball. From this point on with the people we are playing if we get the opportunity to go for the ball we need to get up and intercept it. You don't get a lot of those chances. On offense we need to do a better job with play-action protection, throwing, catching, cadence, rhthym, all of those fundamentals we needed to work on, we did work on them."

While Colorado may be trademark Barnett, this OSU team is different and Barnett has already discovered the defense is much different than the one that helped OSU win 42-14 in Boulder last season.

"Their defense is really good personnel-wise, but they do a lot of different things, which is pretty amazing because usually when you do a lot of different things you end up not being good at much," explained Barnett. "They seem to be good at everything they do. It's a bit of a squirrel derby for us trying to figure out all of the things they are going to do on defense. It makes you prepare for a lot of different things. They have been a very productive defensive team. Offensively, they are getting their personnel together and they have a lot of good players there too."

Barnett may have been being kind about the offense because in three nonconference games – all of which OSU was heavily favored –– the offense scored just six touchdowns. Barnett knows that even though his offense came close to not even lighting the scoreboard in Miami that the Buffs game with 10th-ranked Miami may have been the right prep for the start of Big 12 play.

"It comes down to how you play in those games," said the Buffs head coach. "If we had gone down to Miami and gotten our brains beat in then I really wouldn't have liked anything about the whole deal because you don't get any confidence. We didn't. We went down there and we didn't play our best game and we didn't win the game, but we're not taking moral victories. But we did go down and stand toe to toe with them and came out feeling good, not about the game we played, but where we can go as a team."

Colorado and Oklahoma State both hope to eventually go bowling and have successful regular season campaigns that will benefit their programs and promote recruiting. Colorado is also playing for the pride of the north division as OSU has not lost to a north division team since losing to Nebraska in the 2003 season opener. Which team had the better preparation, and how far along the Cowboys have come with the new staff will be discovered in the Big 12 opener on Saturday.

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