Mike Gundy Q&A (Part 2)

This is part two of our conversation with Cowboy head football coach Mike Gundy. You'll find a lot more football oriented information in this article.

GP: What do you think about your offense heading into the preseason camp and the season?
Gundy: I think we'll be better than we were last year. I know we were really good -- 200/200 (yards rushing and passing per game), and really good. I think as the season progresses we'll be better up front, more athletic. We'll be better at quarterback. We'll be better at running back, (and) as good if not better at fullback. We'll be better at tight end, and as the season progresses with the younger receivers developing, we'll be better at wide receiver. There are high expectations for that group and there should be and I think they enjoy that. We are looking forward for them to continue to get better.

GP: Okay, let's go over to the defense where you made a change in the coordinator and look to improve attitude and performance.
Gundy: I think we will be better than we were last year. We're not as athletic overall right now as we are on offense, but I like what Coach Beck's (new coordinator Tim Beckman) system involves. I like the accountability. One of the reasons I brought him here was his history of accountability with the defensive coaches and players in all areas. I am very comfortable with what (offensive cooredinator Larry) Fedora does, and Coach Beck fits that role. I think the development of the defense will happen over a period of time, but they need to continue to give great effort, play hard, and not give up big plays. I think part of our success will be based on working well together as a team. One area where we look at this is how we can attack an opponent on offense and then look at what we can do against them on defense. The defense will play better than people will think they can because of accountability. Donovan Woods and Marquis Fountain, Jeray Chatham and some of those other people that I mentioned -- like Martel Van Zant and Jacob Lacey -- I think will all play better. Calvin Mickens is maturing and didn't have a good year last year, went through a period of time where he was feeling sorry for himself, he's doing better. Jacob Lacey didn't play well at the end of the season last year but his attitude is much better now. Chris Collins should develop and be a better player. We have (Jeremy) Nethon, who has come on and developed himself. There are other guys that I haven't mentioned but the attitude is good and they understand. I have had numerous conversations with our football team that this is not an offensive and defensive team. This is a football team together. There are games last year where our offense could have won the game. People talk about our defense, but in the Kansas State game all we had to do was get a first down at the end of the game and we didn't do it. Offensively and defensively we need to work as a team.

GP: How about special teams?
> Gundy: Special teams will be better. We have more players between 185 and 220 pounds that can run and tackle and make plays in space. That goes back to your recruiting, and when you have more players like that then you are going to be better on special teams. We have maturity at the snapping position, maturity at the holding position, and we have maturity with the kicker and the punter, so I think we'll be in good shape there. I think we'll be really good on special teams.

GP: What is a difference maker for this team to be improved?
Gundy: We are into our third year and we are much deeper than we were two years ago. We still lack in the defensive line, and how well we play early in the year is going to depend on these young guys on the defensive line holding their own until they grow up. We have some young players on the defensive line that are going to have to go out there against Georgia and hold their own and they really haven't played much college football. That is a difficult situation but it really isn't going to change. We are not going to get four or five juniors to come in here for that first game to go out and play for us. What we need those guys to do is go out there and make plays and stand up and be a man and find a way to get it done. Everybody can tell us what the problems are but I don't want to hear it. I want to know what the solutions are to the problems. Players understand that and they know we are heading in the right direction.

GP: A big part of the summer was the recruiting effort and there was a two-week period in the summer where it seemed like Oklahoma State was getting a commitment every day or every other day. It's the kind of roll you don't see very often. What can you say about the recruiting effort?
Gundy: One thing I can say and feel real confident about backing it up, and I've said this from the start, is that on most staffs that I've been on, and I've been doing this for 17 years, there were two or three guys that could recruit. We've got nine guys that can recruit. We don't ask our coordinators to do a lot, but Larry Fedora and Coach Beck can recruit. When you have nine guys doing it full time, compared to two or three, you can really do a good job. It is a difficult time of year, difficult time all year with text messaging and being on the phone all the time because it is so competitive. We went on a good roll in June and I think we're close on three or four others. We only have about six more scholarships left to give and we really feel strong about the evaluation process and the background checks on these young men. We try to bring quality people in here that are interested in graduating and doing the right thing, playing football and having a good time. That is what we are looking for. Some of the players that we commit, people may say, who are they? Well, they are players that we've researched. They are a good person and we have the opportunity to evaluate and do an in-depth study and they will be a quality player and a quality person that will help us compete for a championship and that is what our goal is. We got on a roll where we hit on some players that we really felt good about and had strong ties in those areas and we were able to get them on board. When you do that things start to snowball. You see that with Texas every year. We have a pretty good thing going here. We haven't changed our geographical areas with our coaches in three years. We have strength in relationships in those areas which we think is pretty important. We take great care of the players that are in our program now and they have become our best recruiters. When recruits come in here and ask our current players questions, they say, 'This is where I would come to school if I had to do it over again.' I'm going to guess that over 50 percent of the schools in the country don't have that going for them. That is a credit to Coach Holder (athletic director Mike Holder) and some of the things that he has put in place here for our team and their every day lifestyle. That is very important. It's going very well, but I'm expecting three or four more to follow before we tee it up in September.

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