Sunday Rewind: Lots To Fix, But After A Win

The celebratory period is over in the Oklahoma State football offices. The good aspect of Saturday's win over Texas Tech was that with the 2:30 p.m. kickoff, even with the game lasting more than four hours, there was still time Saturday evening to spend with friends and family and glow in the bask of the 49-45 verdict over the Red Raiders, and the first place status in the Big 12 South Division.

However, Sunday afternoon it was back to work grading tape, and working ahead on preparing for a Sam Houston State team that features former OU quarterback Rhett Bomar and will throw the ball close to 60 times a game.

"We did a better job late in the game," said Gundy of the Oklahoma State defense that allowed Tech 713 yards of total offense, 646 yards passing, but allowed only 10 second-half points and came up with two key stops on the last two Tech possessions to help win the game.

"We have to grow up inside on the defensive line and I've said that before. We busted a lot (in coverage), we walked up on the receivers to take aways the short stuff, but had to worry with the ball being thrown over our head. We blitzed a lot and sometimes it worked," Gundy continued. "You just can't give an offense five or six seconds to throw the ball. No team can stop the pass under those conditions. Ultimately, you have to get pressure on the passer."

As for the stops late in the game, he was asked if the save in the Independence Bowl win over Alabama may have come into play after the close calls that went the wrong way for Oklahoma State in the 2006 regular season.

"I hope it helped us some," said Gundy. "In the Alabama game we developed confidence that we could finish. In the game yesterday the defense got gashed the whole game and made plays they needed to win late. Last season against K-State, A&M, and Tech we played reasonably well during the game and were gashed at the end of the game. Now I think we have a lot of things to fix, but I do like it that we made plays at the end of the game."

Oklahoma State should be a heavy favorite this week against Sam Houston State, who was off last week and is 2-1 on the season after losing its last game at North Dakota State. But Gundy understands the BCS Championship Subdivision (Division I-AA) mentality. The Bearkats will be coming in looking to make history like Appalachian State did on the opening weekend at Michigan. He stressed that the Cowboys need to get some banged up players healthy (LB Chris Collins, SS Andre Sexton, and TE Brandon Pettigrew), and also keep a player like running back Dantrell Savage healthy too.

"We need to come up with a great game plan and go have a great week of practice," added Gundy.

The game plan will obviously include more of Savage and Kendall Hunter running the football, and quarterback Zac Robinson running and passing. The offense was wide awake from an early season fog on Saturday and you have to start with the return of Savage. (Note: This is, by the way, an I TOLD YOU SO moment.)

"We are a different team when Dantrell plays," explained Gundy. "He is very productive for us and hopefully, we can keep him healthy because when he is out there we are a different team. His teammates respond to him. They know what he means to us."

Savage chuckled Saturday in the radio post-game show when we asked him about his "Mini-me" in freshman Kendall Hunter. The Texas Tech defense didn't see anything funny about it at all as Hunter, no doubt inspired by some of Savage's early runs, rushed for more than 100 yards for the second straight game. Gundy said Hunter's reputation and status are growing.

"In order to be an impact player and get respect, that has to come over a period of time," started Gundy of his freshman back. "I like where he's at, but I want to know what we see over the next five or six weeks. I like him. He maintains a very low self, I guess what I mean is he doesn't get out of control and keeps his emotions in tact. He's tough and could be a very good football player."

Robinson had a huge day, rushing for 116 yards and two touchdowns and passing for 211 yards and two more touchdowns including the game winner over the middle to Pettigrew. Gundy acknowledged that Robinson grew a little weary later in the game, but Gundy doesn't see that as a problem and feels it will be corrected with experience.

"I don't think so," answered the Cowboys head coach if he thought Robinson's arm tired like a baseball pitcher. "There is experience in the conditions, fatigue. He needs to remember to set his feet and pace yourself. He does run a lot and I think that can exhaust a lot of energy and might effect the pass. That is something I'm curious about."

A huge and in some cases forgotten factor was the performance and production of the re-built offensive line after the broken leg ended the season for three-year starting center David Washington.

"They actually surprised me," said Gundy. "Steven Denning had not started a game before and he grades out 84 percent. A good grade is 70-75 percent and anything above that is really good. Andrew Lewis does a good job of handling the center position in his first start. He needs to get better, but he played pretty well."

Finally there was the sidebar that likely will catch a delayed attention outside the state. But it was a headliner after the game and that was Gundy's post-game news conference tirade directed at The Oklahoman's Jenni Carlson over a column on Bobby Reid that carried an ugly tone to it.

"I didn't read it until after the game," said Gundy of the column that caused an angry response that ended without Gundy taking questions on the win. "I heard about it in pregame because we have the newspapers out for the players in the morning so they can read the stories and check on high school scores, whatever they want to do. I noticed all the newspapers (The Oklahoman) were confiscated and one of my operations people told me what happened and that there was a very negative article in there about Bobby (Reid). I wasn't going to waste my time reading the article then because we had a game to play.

"If I had it to do over (news conference), I shot from the hip, I would have written out a statement." said Gundy. "I would have covered some things a little more in depth."

No apology and no taking anything back, but then that would be out of character for Gundy. He knew how that column made him feel, and he knew that he was going to defend his player even if it cost him a chance to answer questions and celebrate a few more minutes a satisfying win that as of Sunday has been tucked away in lieu of preparing for next Saturday.

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