What A Difference A Year Makes

This Sunday rewind was actually typed on a word document that contained the recaps from last season and it was obvious in glancing at those stories how things have changed with the Oklahoma State football program. To start with there was never a recap that featured questions about Bobby Reid setting a record with 457 yards of total offense or throwing five touchdown passes with one rushing TD.

Also, there was never a mention of a 300-yard day for a wide receiver that is now leading the nation in receiving yardage. Cowboy players being awarded helmet stickers by the ESPN hosts on College Football Wrap-up weren't mentioned. Having a team that is 4-2 after six games was not a topic last season either.

That said Mike Gundy's two most important comments during his Sunday teleconference with the beat writers and broadcasters may have been the following: "We think stats that hold up in a game are turnovers, third-down conversions, and rushing yards," Gundy said. "We were 8-of-15 and held them to 2-of-12 on third downs. Last year the other teams were 8-of-15 and we were 2-of-12. That tells you the strides we are making in this program."

Gundy has repeatedly praised the closeness of his football team. He that about having guys that care about their teammates. That can make for loads of hidden production and game turning performances on the field that go unnoticed. That is the case for another Gundy statement that he seemed to be proud to discuss.

"The receivers blocking downfield was just as impressive as anything Bobby (Reid) and (Adarius) Bowman did," said the Cowboys head coach of the effort that helped spring all those second-half scoring plays. "D'Juan (Woods) was tremendous (blocking) down field, (Anthony) Parks and Ricky (Price) were awesome. They are blocking as well as any crew I've ever been around."

Those two areas (third-down conversions and the blocking of the receivers downfield) maybe didn't stand out like the believed to be school-record 42 points in one half on the road, or the Reid yardage and stats, or the Bowman touchdowns and stats, or the Bruce Redden well executed onside kick, and the overall team production in the win at Kansas. However, Gundy knows if players continue pushing themselves in some of the unrecognized areas those will combine to make the second half of the regular season one that will extend the Cowboys season to a bowl opportunity. Sometimes it is the little things that add up even when there are so many big things to notice as well.

Gundy hit on a variety of topics following the win with the first being the condition of the right knee injury to standout freshman linebacker Chris Collins. That was the first question of the entire news conference and Gundy didn't have anything definitive. "He'll have an MRI tomorrow," said Gundy. "We'll announce something with the injury report on Thursday."

Gundy was pressed, but said he didn't know anything and that even if the MRI showed something other than ACL damage the likelihood of Collins playing against Texas A&M was remote. So how do the Cowboys adjust and can they throw out another special personnel package similar to what they did against Kansas on Saturday when they moved Andre Sexton down to linebacker and played some different personnel like Quinton Moore and Grant Jones in the secondary?

"That was just a package put in for that game, a personnel group for attacking what they had," explained Gundy. "I haven't gotten that far for Texas A&M. That was a plan for Kansas and the quarterback option and the way they spread you out.

"I have no clue right now, no clue how that will pan out," said Gundy of what the defense will do for A&M. "I don't get to that till Tuesday morning. I check on that but those (defensive) guys do the scheming."

Gundy said the Aggies are doing what they have in the past and his description sound a little similar to Kansas.

"Fran (Dennis Franchione) is doing the same thing he's always done," said Gundy. "Reading option, veer option, play action passes, nothing different than how he's always done it."

Gundy did mention number 11, that is Javorskie Lane, who is a 6-0, 290-pound monster of a tailback to bring down. That is different and could require some heavy lifters up front and in the linebacker corps along with some brave souls in the secondary if Lane gets that far.

Here are some other Gundy comments from Sunday:
On coming home again: "It's homecoming and we'll have a full house, sea of orange, and kick it off at 6 p.m. with a fired up crowd. Our guys are excited about playing, just like they were last week. I thought we had our best practice last Tuesday. Our players care about each other and that is why they are pushing forward."

On the running back situation: "No change. (Keith) Toston practiced better last Wednesday and Thursday and that is why we gave him the start. We have three of them. (Dantrell) Savage did some good things in the game, and (Mike) Hamilton really came in and played the way we expect him to. Toston didn't play very well. Some of them run some plays better than others. We have some flexibility in getting them in to run the plays they run best and it's not a key as to what we will run when one of them is in there."

On Russell Okung's first start at offensive right tackle and whether Brady Bond will be back: "Okung played all right, okay. I would imagine that Brady Bond would be back (this week)."

On the offense not producing the first half: "We moved the ball> What'd we have a couple of hundred yards the first half? We didn't punch it in. We turned the ball over. We missed a wide open receiver at the four-yard line.(John) Johnson was open and Bobby threw it into the turf."

On the crazy results in college football: "We got back at 8:30, so I had time when I got home to see the scores. I don't know what is going to happen and I don't know what is going on."

No, it's hard to tell anymore about college football and the Big 12. That is why a team that is 4-2 can beat a team that is 6-1 and that beat them 62-23 a year ago. That is the next lesson for Gundy's improved Cowboys, that and how to impress everybody on Homecoming.

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