Gundy: Cowboys Need To Begin Making Plays

OSU head coach Mike Gundy had finished watching the tape of Saturday's 62-23 loss to Texas A&M and had met with his staff to review the game prior to talking to the media on Sunday afternoon. For those who have been worried about Gundy's reported lack of involvement in either the offense or defense as a head coach, rest assured he's involved, enough that he retracted part of his postgame statement from Saturday when he said his team had been outcoached, outplayed, and outschemed.

"I've watched both sides of the ball," Gundy said when asked for an analysis of Saturday's loss. "(In our staff meeting) we just dicussed what happened in the game and where we had problems and what we have to do to fix it. Were the problems athletically? Schemes? Did they (A&M) have the right call for what we were doing? (Did) we find the problem and then go and get it fixed?"

As for Saturday's game, what was it? "It's a mixture. Our schemes were actually better than what I thought," concluded Gundy. "Our schemes defensively weren't quite what I thought they were, at times that No. 1 (A&M quarterback Reggie McNeal) had a lot to do with it."

Gundy said some of the problems defensively had to do with holes they were put in by the offense at the start of the game. After holding A&M to a field goal on the opening drive, the offense turned the ball over on the first play when Al Pena was stripped while looking to throw a deep pass and A&M had the ball at the OSU 42. On the next possession, after giving up a pair of sacks totaling 27 yards, OSU had to punt from the 5-yard line and A&M started after the punt at the OSU 35. Down 17-0 and on the field most of the first quarter, OSU fumbled the ensuing A&M kickoff and the defense was looking at the Aggie offense again, this time at the OSU 30.

Gundy didn't totally excuse the defense, but it was another example of a bad combination of situations that all added up to a struggle for an OSU defense that was playing more young players and players in different positions than can be remembered in at least five years.

"Obviously, we have to play better defensively. There is no other way to put it in perspective," said Gundy. "Then we see where we were at in the game and what we have to do to get plays made. You have to watch the tape to get a real feel for what happened in the game. The schemes were fine, we just didn't make plays. They had a good plan offensively."

The offense had its share of scrutiny as well. Improving is needed on both sides of the ball on this team.

"No changes on what we are doing," Gundy said. "We just have to get better at what we are trying to do on both sides of the ball, and recognize formations and motions on defense, and on offense do a better job of recognizing coverages, blitzes and stunts that will give us a chance to make plays."

Gundy was asked about attitude and whether he is worried that it is slipping for the Cowboys. To be honest, he isn't.

"If the players know you care about them as a staff and respect them they will respond. I saw no problems, no lack of effort. In fact, XLK (Xavier Lawson-Kennedy) chased the ball better than he has in any game this year. The team losing morale or not playing hard is not a concern of mine."

Gundy also said it shouldn't be any different for the seniors than it is juniors, sophomores and freshmen. He felt losing should feel the same to all the players. The rewards of all the work that goes into being a student-athlete and Division I football player is the opportunity to go play on Saturday and the opportunity to win. It's the same for all.

"The one thing is that people don't understand about what we are doing here is that we are in the business of developing these players as people and getting them ready to go out in the world and be productive members of society," Gundy said of team morale and attitude. "A big part of this (job) is to win games, get them to work as a team, and fight through adversity. There is only a small percentage of these players that will be able to do this for a living. No coach wants to have to work with players to get them to overcome adversity and losing, but we have to. That's college football and life, you deal with it, and get them ready for the real world."

Gundy and the staff now have to get this team ready for Iowa State, and realistically, with what we have seen thus far, the only winnable game among the next three on the schedule. How is this team set for Saturday at Iowa State positions by position. Below is our analysis.

Al Pena did some good things and moved the offense against a Big 12 opponent about as well as the Cowboys did in the second half against Missouri. He made some rookie mistakes, primarily throwing some balls he should have thrown away or looked for another receiver. He also held the ball too long a couple of times, something Bobby Reid has done as well. It will either be Reid or Pena with the hope that the one that goes is benefitting from the tough lessons on the job.

Running Back
Truly one of the bright spots. Michael Hamilton was an improved back at A&M with 97 yards on 12 carries. He showed some elusiveness he hadn't shown on his 38-yard run that set up a touchdown. Shawn Willis continues to do what he does well, block and power run, and John Johnson caught a touchdown pass. Pay attention to Greg Gold, who had 49 yards on five carries in garbage time. He showed some speed and may get a chance to do more.

Wide Receiver
About the same here, D'Juan Woods is a warrior and continues to play well. Ricky Price is getting better and more dependable. Luke Frazier had a pair of drops that were disappointing. More has to be developed here, if it is here.

Tight End
These guys showed up more on Saturday and maybe this is a sign that Brandon Pettigrew and Paschal Smith, who were de-emphasized some in the passing game will get emphasized some more.

Offensive Line
They are solid, but not spectacular. The sacks aren't all the fault of the O-line, and the run blocking was pretty good. Center David Washington is growing up more each week. The more consistent they become the better. It would be nice to see them help in an offensive drive that sets a tone right at the start of the game with Iowa State.

Defensive Line

Kind of like the offensive line, the defensive line hasn't been a big part of the problem but certainly could do more to help provide the solution. No sacks is a problem, but Ryan McNeal is pretty elusive and the threat of option has this defense in a freeze right now. The defensive ends played hard, but still found themselves out of position at times.

This crew was patched together at times against Texas A&M, with former defensive end Tremaine Carroll playing some along with freshmen Alex Odiari and Kevin White. The return of Lawrence Pinson against Iowa State will be welcomed.

When Stephen James went out early with a hip bruise that meant the most playing time so far this season for Donovan Woods and he held up OK, but as Gundy said he has a long way to go. That could go for the entire secondary. There is still a lot of growing up to do with so many young players involved. One real bright spot was the interception by Calvin Mickens, his second of the season.

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