OSU Still Learning; Needed Week Off Arrives

Mike Gundy's mind has not changed in a week's time. The Oklahoma State head coach is still using his vote in the USA Today Coach's Top 25 to vote the Texas Longhorns the number one college football team in the nation. Gundy had based his vote the previous three weeks on tape he'd seen of Texas preparing for other opponents. Now he has an up close and personal inspection to base his opinion on following Saturday night's loss to the Longhorns.

"They have big, strong and fast athletes that can certainly give you problems in certain areas," Gundy said.

In his team's 47-28 loss to Texas on Saturday night in which the Cowboys jumped out to a 28-9 lead in the first half and maintained a lead until inside the two minute mark in the third quarter, Gundy had praise for a lot of his players.

"Adam Gourley (offensive left tackle filling in for injured Charlie Johnson) played well for his first game, but okay overall," said Gundy. "He got the best of Texas early. Mike Hamilton (31 carries for 194 yards) played well, Al Pena took care of the ball. Ricky Price and D'Juan Woods both played well. Luke Frazier, in his own world, played well. Rodrick Johnson, XLK (Xavier Lawson-Kennedy), Ryan McBean, Calvin Mickens (all played well). Mickens, they tried to pick on him and he didn't give up the big play. Victor DeGrate chased the quarterback and the running backs well all night. There wasn't anybody on the field that didn't chase the ball. They played real hard."

Gundy admitted that he thought Texas wore Oklahoma State down, adding that he thought both teams used the same game plan on both sides of the ball in the second half and that he didn't see a lot of adjustments going on. Texas did start shifting its defensive line into a double eagle front, but that was something OSU had anticipated and worked on throughout the week. It did lead to some OSU illegal procedure penalties and that is a concern, as is the fact that Oklahoma State may have shown another sign of a young team. Gundy used linebacker Rodrick Johnson as an example.

"We feel comfortable that he is getting better," Gundy said of the eight-tackle effort, including a fumble recovery, by Johnson. "He played three quarters against Missouri and then Texas A&M and Iowa State and Texas. This is his fourth game as a starter and, like Gourley, he was playing 80-some odd plays versus playing a few. He's learning how to play an entire game, emotional. Our guys were emotional when we jumped out to the early lead. That can also attribute to running out of gas at the end."

To that end Gundy said he would do his best this week to let the players, especially the young players, get some time to recover and be ready for the final stretch of the season.

"I gave them an extra day off and they don't have to practice Monday," added the first-year Cowboy head coach. "They'll be off Friday and will lift and run in the morning. We need to let the young guys have some time off and their bodies rehabilitiate. We will work three days, Tuesday through Thursday, and then come back and get at it next week."

Is time off the right thing? "I don't think anybody really knows for sure," answered Gundy. "Coaches debate that all the time, but with as many young guys as we have they need time off away from practice and the coaches just to freshen up."

Now the talk shifts to the final three games. You won't hear Gundy talk about anybody except Texas Tech. He has been steadfast in that all season long. But players even mentioned after the game that if they can put three strong games together - playing as well as they did against Texas - then it gives them a chance to win games, maybe all three and become bowl eligible. That's very important to the seniors.

The question now becomes which players will be available for the final three games of the year? Gundy said that quarterback Bobby Reid and and linebacker Lawrence Pinson are still day-to-day.

"I don't think Bobby will practice this week, and we thought Pinson was close and then find out at Iowa State he didn't have any push," said Gundy. "They are both day-to-day, and we'll see if they can come back. I would hope they could practice on Thursday and then be ready to go the next week."

Gundy said the time off obviously is a set back for Reid, but he added that the redshirt freshman is not frustrated. He also said that while Reid is improving, he's a long way off. The missed game reps can't be substituted. It's obvious from the past three games that the experience has helped Pena.

"He was starting to play a little better and be more comfortable before he got hurt," Gundy said of Reid. "As far as saying he got it, I don't think you can say he got it."

One other prominent topic was the Cowboys spread punt formation which Texas burned for two partially blocked punts. Gundy was quoted Saturday night as saying he knew the problem but it couldn't be totally fixed this season.

"Joe (DeForest) and I had some concerns with the way everything matched up. Part of it we can't really fix and we have to try to find a way to overcome it," said Gundy. "That gives us something to work on this week in special teams."

"I think he's (punter Matt Fodge) done a great job, other than a couple of tips (against) Arkansas State and Texas. We gave up long returns to Missouri and at Iowa State. Other than that we have been a lot more efficient this year at downing the ball inside the 15-yard line and I think that is as important as anything."

Gundy said the staff had worked on recruiting so far during the day. We do know that North Mesquite wide receiver/cornerback Al'Darius Thompson and North Cobb, Ga., defensive end Eric Norwood were in for official visits. Both players came in having given verbal commitments to OSU.

This week will end with the coaches on the road recruiting. Recruiting and the final three games of the season are now the most important areas to work on for the Cowboys.

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