Gundy, Cowboys Ready To Kick It Off

Mike Gundy began his head coaching career a year ago with wins over Montana State, Florida Atlantic and Arkansas State. But the Oklahoma State head coach realizes none of those victories were real convincing, and the Cowboys won only one more game in the final two months of the season. OSU fans are hoping that changes when the Cowboys open the season Saturday against Missouri State.

So does Gundy. He knows that defeating Missouri State (a Division I-AA opponent from the Gateway Conference) by the score of 15-10 (Montana State), or 23-3 (Florida Atlantic), or 20-10 (Arkansas State) as the Cowboys did in their first three games a year ago will not satisfy OSU fans.

"We look forward to getting started, and going out and competing and finding out where we're at," Gundy said while meeting with members of the media on Monday. "It doesn't really affect or doesn't really bother me who we play but we just need to get a feel for where we're at as a football team."

"What's important for us is we go out and play, and then get better next week, get a little bit better the next week, bring some of those young guys along and the veteran guys that we want to make plays," Gundy. "I'd love to (win big just like the fans). I'm with it, but I don't see anything that we did that makes me think we're just going to go out and start kicking people's butts right off the bat."

The Cowboys have played the Bears (formerly known as Southwest Missouri State) four times since 1993, and won three of those games by 30 or more points. But in 1996 OSU had to rally for a touchdown in the final minute of regulation time to tie the score and then won 23-20 on David Thompson's 13-yard touchdown run in the first overtime game in NCAA history.

OSU fans are hoping it's not that close Saturday night in Boone Pickens Stadium. Neither does Gundy, or Bobby Reid, or D'Juan Woods, or Darnell Smith … you get the idea.

But Gundy believes that it does matter who the Cowboys open with, especially when you realize that wide receiver Adarius Bowman will be playing in his first game in nearly two years, right guard Kurt Seifried will be making his first start after five years in the program, and redshirt freshman Brady Bond will start at left tackle after moving to that position from guard just two weeks ago.

"It does (matter who you play), and I think it does for two reasons," said the Cowboy head coach. "The first reason is (to find out) where you are with your football program? Second thing is it's not all about trying to schedule people who are so called easy wins, which for us right now I get that a lot. What have we done to make anybody think that we have an easy win? Nothing."

But the player Cowboy fans will be watching the closest is not Bowman. Nor Seifried or Bond. You can bet all 40,000-plus Cowboy fans will be keeping a close eye on quarterback Bobby Reid, who struggled much of last season before three dislocated toes sidelined him for much of the second half.

The 6-3, 230-pound redshirt sophomore says he's more comfortable running the Cowboys' no-huddle, spread offense than he did at any time last season. Not only will he be asked to get the ball in the hands of playmakers like D'Juan Woods, Adarius Bowman and Ricky Price, but Gundy says he'll be expected to tuck the ball under his arm and make plays with his running ability.

"We've asked him to run the football and not just run to slide, but to run and try to get somebody to miss him. He needs to be able to run the football effectively, whether it's a structured play or not. For example, if protection breaks down or somebody is covered downfield, he needs to be able to pull it down and take off and run it," said Gundy.

Gundy said he expects up to a dozen true freshmen to play this season, although all of them may not see action Saturday against Missouri State. He said Cowboy fans should expect to see Chris Collins, who is starting at a linebacker position, and Perrish Cox, who is the nickel back on defense and also a kick and punt returner, to play the most.
But he also said that wide receiver Artrell Woods, cornerback Al'Darius Thompson, offensive tackle Russell Okung, fullback Orie Lemon, defensive end Derek Burton, cornerback Terrance Anderson, running back Keith Toston, linebacker Patrick Lavine and linebacker Justin Gent to see playing time. "A bunch of those guys are starters on special teams," Gundy said.

Gundy also said that former Cowboy wrestler Steve Mocco, who is playing football for the first time, would probably see action in the season opener. "Mocco's 10 times better than he was three weeks ago. Everybody thought he was great using his hands, but it's different in football. Now he's learning all the stuff that D-linemen do, and he's used to people being all around him," Gundy said. "I am surprised he can do it this fast, but Mocco is a tough guy. Tough guys can last in football for a long time."

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