Gundy Will Need More Than A Gold Fish

Oklahoma State hasn't won a game since September and the Cowboys are winless in the Big 12. Now they will welcome Texas, one of the best teams in the country, to Boone Pickens Stadium for homecoming on Saturday. Cowboy head coach Mike Gundy has a healthy opinion of Texas as he has been one of the minority of coaches in the USA Today poll voting the Longhorns in the top spot.

"I voted them number one going on several weeks now," Gundy said of the 7-0 (4-0 in the Big 12) Longhorns. "I've seen crossover tape on them for the past several weeks and I think they are the best team in the country."

So, now as a young head coach just what does Gundy pull out of his hat to convince the Cowboys that they can go out toe-to-toe with the team their head coach is voting as best in the land and come out of it with the biggest upset this season in college football?

"You don't approach it any differently," said Gundy, who saw his team again cough up five turnovers, all directly leading to Iowa State points or stopping Oklahoma State in the red zone in the 37-10 loss to Iowa State. "I don't think you do that (use a motivational ploy). You get a plan together and practice hard all week."

Gundy is familiar with coaching against Texas from his days as an assistant coach at both Baylor and Oklahoma State. In the five games he has served as an assistant coaching against Texas the teams he's served on are 0-5 with close calls at Baylor in 1996 (28-23) and with the Cowboys in 2002 (17-15 loss at Texas).

While coaching at Baylor Gundy had to have heard of former Baylor coach Grant Teaff and the legendary story of Teaff swallowing the gold fish in the locker room before an upset win by the Bears over the Longhorns. I think Gundy realizes it will take more than him digesting a gold fish to whip up or just edge ahead of the burnt orange.

The Cowboys are beat up and a little thread bare in the depth department. Middle linebacker Lawrence Pinson played some against Iowa State, coming back from an ankle sprain but was ineffective after the first quarter. Gundy hopes he will play more against Texas. Offensive tackle Charlie Johnson went out with an ankle sprain. It was re-taped on the sidelines, but he couldn't go. Johnson vowed after the game that he would be ready by Saturday.

Free safety Stephen James made the trip to Iowa State but couldn't play. Converted quarterback Donovan Woods played every snap and on most of the special teams. Gundy, when asked, cited that and individual respect as the reason Woods has not been moved back to quarterback as many fans have started hinting they would like to see.

"We don't have anybody at safety," Gundy said when asked about Woods and possibly returning to quarterback. "The commitment we made to Donovan was that he could stay at quarterback or move to another position and he chose defense and safety. It wouldn't be fair to him individually and try to put him over on offense when he hasn't practiced there. It wouldn't be fair to bring him back and forth. It's about the team and respect for each player individually."

As a freshman quarterback Woods led OSU to a 7-5 record and the Alamo Bowl and was part of an offense that turned the ball over just nine times the entire season. Which brings us to the current quarterback situation where starter Bobby Reid has missed two full games now after going out in the fourth quarter against Missouri with his three middle toes dislocated. The boot came off last week and he worked some, but was not close to full speed.

"I couldn't even tell you. Those injuries are day-to-day," said Gundy. "We'll just have to see where he is at on Tuesday."

As for the current starter, Al Pena, Gundy seemed to be better with Pena's play after the five turnovers against Iowa State as compared to his thoughts after Pena's five turnovers in the loss at Texas A&M. It was obvious from the field that at least two of Pena's interceptions against the Cyclones were less his fault, while one was a bad throw and the other a poor decision. The fade in the end zone was a jump ball that both receivers got their hands on. A corner route to tight end Brandon Pettigrew picked off by a safety coming over might have been prevented and even caught had Pettigrew not hesitated briefly on the route. There was an overthrown ball that was picked off and a pass thrown into double coverage.

"Pena played OK. He made a couple or three bad reads and he made a couple of errant throws," said Gundy, who was then asked if the turnovers directly dictated the outcome of the game. "One is too many," Gundy said of the turnovers.

"We had the ball three times on their side of the field and were moving the ball every time, so I'd say we had a chance. I thought the defense played well until we started the turnover circus. You put them (defense) out there and put them out there and eventually they (offense) will make a play."

Sundays appear to be the toughest day for Gundy. His mood in speaking with the media is grim, where by his Monday news conference he seems to be fine. This week Gundy and his program will have their greatest exposure as TBS will be televise a game from Stillwater for the first time since they joined the Big 12 television line-up. Former KFOR sports anchor Ron Thulin returns to Stillwater. It was TBS and Thulin and company that televised the bizarre meeting between these two teams last season when OSU surged to a 35-7 lead only to be outscored 49-0 the rest of the way and lose 56-35 to Texas.

The country will be watching as the No. 2 team keeps chasing USC in the polls. Texas coach Mack Brown will be looking to punctuate his team's ranking and quest for the Rose Bowl and a shot at the BCS Championship. A gold fish may not help, but the elimination of turnovers certainly would. A little dose of good health might be helpful, too.

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